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Made in the Shade


On a recent beach trip, we could not help notice the army of blue and turquoise sails protecting beach goers from the sun. The once ubiquitous beach umbrella has been replaced by the Shibumi, the invention of two brothers and a friend, all UNC graduates. Somehow a sail seems to be more effective and efficient than an umbrella. 


The three loved the beach but were tired of chasing their beach umbrellas during windy days, so they devised the product in the picture.  They hand-sewed the first one and when a fellow beach goer asked for one, they hand-sewed another for him. More orders followed, and now Shibumis dominate many east coast beaches.


The Shibumi works well--yes we own one--but it is not a cheap product at close to $300 a pop. A good beach umbrella can be purchased for about a ⅓ of that, yet the Shibumi rules. 


As leaders of businesses, what can we learn from the Shibumi? One, that a compelling product receives attention. If it is better, people desire it. Two,  if a product is compelling enough, people will pay premium dollar to purchase it. 


As we look at our offerings, we need to ask ourselves if we are offering a premium product. Is our product different enough from our competitors that it stands out?  If it is, we should not be hesitant to charge top dollar. People, even beach goers from all socioeconomic strata, are willing to pay a premium price for a premium product. If you are not offering a premium product, you should ask yourself, what it would take to offer a truly distinctive, excellent product or experience. 


As summer is upon us, enjoy your time on the beach, with or without a Shibumi. 


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