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An Ocean of Opportunity for Your Brand
Marketing Trends

An Ocean of Opportunity for Your Brand

Gaining a foothold in competitive markets is no simple task. Your brand needs to be noticed by the right people, and to do that you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from everyone else in the field vying for attention.

But how do you?

That’s the question posed by professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their approach to business strategy, Blue Ocean Strategy.

Instead of focusing on your rivals in existing markets, they suggest it’s a better use of your energy to create new market spaces — what they call “blue oceans” where the competition is irrelevant.

Kim and Mauborgne explain that a “blue ocean” is a vast, deep, untapped market largely free from rivals (they’re all busy fighting it out in what they call “red oceans”):

RED OCEANS are all the industries in existence today – the known market space. In red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known.

BLUE OCEANS, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today – the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid.

At its core, Blue Ocean Strategy is about breaking free from the constraints of competition by offering unique value propositions to customers. It challenges marketers to create new demand where none existed before. By doing so, businesses can, in theory, unlock unprecedented growth opportunities and carve out a niche for themselves.

Sounds cool, but what does that actually look like?

Blue Ocean Strategy is about planned disruption

One example often cited in discussions of successful Blue Ocean Strategies is the wine company Yellow Tail. They saw an opportunity in the adult beverage space by inverting expectations and creating demand for their product.

Very broadly speaking, good wine has a reputation for being a drink for people who have discerning palettes and a hefty amount of disposable income. Think Niles & Fraiser Crane. By contrast, cheap wine is for, well, the opposite of that.

Yellow Tail took a look at those long-held assumptions and realized there was another way of doing things. They created an inexpensive, accessible wine and marketed it to average people looking for an alternative to expensive wine or everyday beers and cocktails.

Now, we hear what you’re thinking. “That’s great for B2C brands but how does that translate to B2B? What if my brand is not new?”

According to Kim and Mauborgne, you can start by taking a good look at your industry and identifying some overall pain points. Are there practices or offerings that should be in place but are not? Maybe there’s an industry “best practice” that’s outdated and needs to be rethought or chucked altogether. What if you challenge your definition of your customer?

When you find gaps between “what things are like” and “what customers want” that’s your invitation to sail out into that big blue ocean of opportunity.

Putting Blue Ocean Strategy into practice

The Blue Ocean framework can be extremely helpful for marketers and businesses that want to break out and make their own way in the marketplace. If you’re thinking of giving it a shot, here are some key principles to keep in mind:

Value Innovation: Blue Ocean Strategy emphasizes the concept of value innovation, which involves pursuing differentiation and low cost. Marketers should focus on creating products or services that offer a unique value proposition to customers while keeping costs under control. This requires a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences, as well as a commitment to continuous innovation.

Focus on Non-Customers: Traditional marketing strategies often target existing customers or compete for the same pool of customers as competitors. In contrast, Blue Ocean Strategy encourages marketers to look beyond existing demand and identify non-customers who have been overlooked or underserved by the market. By understanding the pain points of non-customers and offering solutions that address their needs, businesses can potentially unlock new sources of revenue and growth.

Reconstruct Market Boundaries: Blue Ocean Strategy challenges marketers to think creatively about market boundaries and industry structures. This may involve redefining the scope of the industry, creating new market segments, or even entering entirely new industries altogether. By breaking free from industry conventions and reimagining market boundaries, businesses can escape the “red ocean” of competition and chart their course in “blue waters.”

Execution Excellence: While Blue Ocean Strategy provides a powerful framework for innovation, success ultimately hinges on execution. Marketers must translate strategic insights into concrete actions and ensure seamless implementation across the organization. This requires strong leadership, effective communication, and a culture of experimentation and learning.

If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into Blue Ocean Strategy, remember that like all marketing efforts, you likely won’t see instantaneous results. And, you might feel like second-guessing your decision. After all, you are doing something new and different in your industry and that can be lonely in the beginning. But if you plan well and believe in your plan, chances are you won’t be lonely for very long.

Wondering about the right marketing strategy for your brand? Talk to CID’s marketing & strategy experts now.

Rebecca Rick

Rebecca Rick

Senior Content Strategist + Copywriter

Creative. Strategic. Crategic? (We'll workshop it.) Rebecca's part of our award-winning marketing & strategy team where she turns ideas into words and words into content.

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