A list of notable entrepreneurs would include names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jack Ma. These are all people who built an empire and made a difference to the world with their products and vision. However, though the name might not be the first that comes to mind, there is another entrepreneur whose ‘enterprise’ has sustained over the last hundreds of years and grown to reach the far corners of the globe. This entrepreneur is Santa Claus — the toy-bringing, reindeer riding figure who children the world over passionately love for his jovial persona and ‘gifts’.
There are lessons to be learned from the legend if you choose to let your imagination run for a bit. Sure, ‘product distribution’ lasts only one night. But Santa’s is a top-notch, high volume, year-round manufacturing enterprise that is awe-inspiring in scale. Things we can learn from his enterprise:
1. Brand recognition
Santa Claus is someone who has established a personality driven brand that commands instant recognition from people, whether or not they believe in him. Everyone knows about him, and most of the time, they think about him favourably.
2. Customer loyalty
Santa’s market, the children of the world, is vast, comprising nearly 2.2 billion people. And though many of these children may not believe he exists there is an estimate that one in five do. That is approximately 450 million children looking forward to gifts in the run-up to Christmas. Santa has created a niche, where even if the same customer is not loyal to him for the duration of his lifetime, the pool of loyal customers is renewed by culture and legend.
3. Streamlined operations & segmented marketing
Santa makes sure he makes a list of people who want his ‘products’ and does not miss anyone in distribution. Manufacturing is also not one-dimensional, with a range of products being produced to cater to a customer base with vastly different preferences where even though the broad category of product is toys, the differentiation within that category is vast. Santa does targeted marketing.
The business is structured in a way that he inevitably has downtime. While this may not be practical for most entrepreneurs, this time set aside can be invested in one’s personal life is valuable and is certainly an aspiration, if not an attainable goal.
5. Team building
Building a great team is at the heart of any successful and sustainable enterprise. Santa, with his industrious dwarfs who work the year round and reindeer who ferry him around the world provide a great foundation from where Santa has been able to build and grow his business.
6. Future relevance
The business is immune to the ebbs and flows of the economy. Other businesses and people reference his name and brand which is an integral part of the culture of the holiday season around Christmas and New Year. He does not have to invest in advertising per say because word of mouth and becoming an ‘urban legend’ ensure that he is a name that will be on people’s lips when the holiday season approaches.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!