Sustainable Design: Growbooks

Determining the Market and Competitors

I’ve been taking the time to explore the different markets that the Growbooks could fall under. So far I’ve come up with the following: Interactive Children’s Board Books, Traditional Board Books and Grow Kits. It also seems like the books could expand into the “grown up” market such as Modern Plant Books, Interactive Books for Grown Ups and Children’s Books Rewritten for Adults. When evaluating the children’s board book market it’s important to note that Publishing Perspectives estimated that from January to June 2019, the US Trade Book Net Revenue for board books was estimated to be around $57.2 million. They also estimated that the board book market grew around 2.5% compared to the first sixth months of last year. Our first iteration of the growbooks will be geared towards children. Thus using my Product Metrics Matrix from my previous post, I was able to analyze similar and competing products:

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Competition Matrix in the Children's Book Market

It’s interesting to note that children’s books that fall under the interactive category are usually higher priced than traditional board books. When evaluating the range of the prices, there’s almost a $20 difference between both categories. It’s also interesting to note that while Growbooks do fall under an interactive children’s book, there are two key features that make it different from the competitors:

  1. Compostable
  2. Provides a seed pod to facilitate the learning process of growing plants

The rest of the categories show very important supplementary material such as dimensions of the book, word count, number of pages, types of illustrations and popularity on Amazon’s platform under their corresponding categories. This will help us decide how we should proceed with our own book’s metrics and how to accomplish our customer needs.

I then researched different products offered in categories such as Modern Plant Books, Interactive Books for Grown Ups and Children’s Books Rewritten for Adults. This is what I found:

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Product Needs Matrix for Various Book Markets

It seems like books with more media and an artsy appeal are higher priced than books that are more informational. I would consider Drunken Botanist more informational than Urban Botanics due to the large variety of concepts and history that the Drunken Botanist explores in different plants. Drunken Botanist tends to go more in depth than Urban Botanics granted the information is different–Drunken Botanist has a significantly larger word and page count than both Urban Botanics and Urban Jungle Living.

It’s also interesting to see how popular children’s books rewritten for adults are. In fact, Go the F**k to Sleep is rated at #124 in Amazon’s Books. That’s a pretty amazing statistic. The only children book in my matrices that beats that is The Very Hungry Caterpillar–rated at #26. It seems like this would be another interesting market to enter, but the price tags on the books are relatively low compared to the price tags on the Modern Plant Books and the Interactive Children’s books. Since I am moving towards the self-publishing route with a fairly untested product, I’m leaning towards markets with higher per unit price points due to the costs associated with self-publishing–especially for board books. Although there are higher costs associated with self-publishing, it’s also important to note that Indie bookstores are thriving and ABA estimated that store revenues were up 5% in 2018.

The last product I assessed with my product matrix was the Organic Mushrooms Kit by Back to the Roots. This company is very much a novelty consumer product producer and I would count them as being one of our major competitors. Here is what I found:

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Back to the Roots Matrix

Their prices seem to range from $19.83-$24.99 depending on whether the mushroom kit is on amazon or their own direct website. It’s weird that this product is listed in Amazon’s Pet Supplies products, but it’s pretty awesome to be rated at #4 in Vegetable Plants and Seeds. This places them directly behind products such as Survival Garden, Nature’s Blossom Bonsai Tree Kit and a 30 pack variety of vegetable seeds. Interesting.  Now while I have assessed a very small amount of products, it seems as if our first Growbook will fall under Interactive Children’s Books and potentially expand into the growing kit market similar to what Back to the Roots competes in. Eventually I would like Growbooks to enter the Modern Plant Books and Interactive Books for Grown Ups. I am not sure if it would have much success in the parody market and thus that market will be shelved until a later date.

The next step is to gather more data. Are subscription-based growkits something that Growbooks should pursue? What does that market currently look like? How important is sustainability to consumers? Are certain age-groups willing to purchase a sustainable product such as a book that has an end-of-life cycle mission as well a certification proving its sustainability? What do these certifications look like? What are consumers willing to spend on a product such as this and are they even in interested in these products? The logical step is to find any current studies that might validate these questions. Another logical step is to put forward my own survey. We’ll see how this goes.

Author

smundon@bu.edu

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