In their book, The Blue Ocean Strategy W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne use the metaphor of red and blue oceans to describe our competitive consumer market. The central marketing strategy is to stand apart from your rivals and create calm ″blue oceans″ (extensions of your products or services) in a bloody sea of “red oceans” (known products or services). This hint of rebellion and outside-the-box approach has me written all over it; look at areas where your competition is not looking, in ways they have not yet explored, and launch into an unfound market. Be the first, the most innovative and stand apart. This makes perfect sense to me and there is an ease to creating your own exclusive niche rather than competing against an existing one. Friendlier I think.
Success lies not in competing and winning, but by making the competition irrelevant through your own innovative business plan. When digging a bit deeper we can see that most businesses that start off with this concept, were quite special from the outset, or they simply extended an existing business model to create a product/service differentiation rather than a completely new market space. Cirque du Soleil came about as an amalgam of three un-connected entertainment businesses (circus, theatre and dance) to create a new market space, but not a new industry. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were the leaders for over 125 years until this new breed of ‘circus’ came to town. Now the days of parading exotic animals for public entertainment has ended. As with Cirque du Soleil and other examples such as Virgin America, these companies have simply differentiated themselves from the competition. The market spaces always existed, but some outside-the-box thinkers backed with research, found new approaches that connected successfully with consumers.
One Burning Question
The Blue Ocean Strategy has probably been in existence since the birth of the entrepreneurial spirit, but now we have a book and a title for it. The concept is compelling, but what happens when the irrelevant “red ocean” competition starts competing for your “blue ocean” exclusive niche?