I happened to come across the book ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne which explains in detail practice of creating uncontested market spaces and making the competition irrelevant.
Red and blue ocean strategy are widely practised marketing strategies around the world. Though nothing new as this is what the industries of the world have been doing through the ages, but surely it is a reminder of / label to a marketing strategy it is easy to lose sight of.
Let’s look at what the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ says in a nutshell –
- Blue ocean strategy is a metaphoric representation of clean blue oceans with an opportunity to catch a lot of fishes wheras red ocean strategy is a metaphoric representation of blue oceans with a lot of competition and hence less opportunity to catch fishes and which has gone bloody with all the competition.
- Blue ocean strategy thinking says that try to offer products and services with USP so that you are able to create uncontested market spaces making the competition irrelevant. The only way to beat the competition is to stop trying to beat the competition.
- Red oceans represent all the industries today where the markets are known quite well. Players understand the rules of being in a ‘red ocean’ and are familiar with competition and try to get a higher market share by various marketing tactics and strategies
- Blue ocean represents all the industries that do not exist today i.e. the unknown market space. These are created by being innovative. Today young and innovative industries are creating blue oceans by using technology to offer products and services which makes lives of their consumers easier by solving some problem.
- Most blue oceans are also created from within red oceans by expanding the industry boundaries. A simple example comes to mind here, an electric tooth brush created a blue ocean market and yet was an extension of a simple tooth brush which has been used by people from ages.
Having a blue ocean strategy thinking helps companies create the market spaces where they can set their own rules and be market leaders. However, as much lucrative and simple the strategy is in written text, it is as much difficult to implement. Lets look at some of the hurdles that comes with it –
- Idea and innovation: For your blue ocean strategy to work, you first need to have a great idea. The idea needs to be good enough to create its own space else it will not be accepted by the consumers.
- Cognitive: While red oceans offer comfort zone of a known market space and environment, blue oceans required a great deal of experimental, intellectual and conscious approach. Attributes which are highly required in the team executing the strategy.
- Limited Resources: In most of the organisations, it is difficult to get resources for unchartered territories.
- Motivation: Motivating all the stakeholders to break out of the status quo is a long and strenuous task.
- Politics: Not every person in the organisation is ready to hustle, innovate and take chances to swim in the vast blue ocean.
Even through the above hurdles are quite practical, the world today is taking chances. Let’s look at some examples of not so distant past and future –
The Uncontested market space or ‘blue oceans’ of social media networking was created by the likes of Orkut and Facebook. A one time blue ocean seems more or less like a red now. It has saturated so much that I myself do not use Facebook for personal use anymore. But what a remarkable and exciting concept it is!
Airbnb created a new uncontested market space or shall we say blue ocean by connecting people who were willing to rent their accommodation to the travellers around the world with a home like comfortable experience at a fair price point. This totally changed the hotel industry!
Today Automotive industry despite its lows and highs has immense innovative potential and served on a platter blue ocean opportunities. With increased focus on clean energy, electric cars seem to be the future. With this just look at the immense scope that is created. Electric car design, electric car manufacturing, electric car batteries example, Li-ion batteries are talk of the town these days, existing petrol pumps can foray into establishing electric car charging stations, service and repair of electric cars, journalism about electric vehicle technology and lot more. The all these industry verticals today are uncontested globally.
Sometimes blue ocean is created by the need of the hour. COVID-19 crisis that hit the world have created a blue ocean for products like hand sanitisers and face masks. Even through the products existed in the market, they were more B2B products and now have become B2C requirements all over the world.
Blue ocean strategy is not a technique or a tool but a mindset. If you approach your business consciously while creating a differentiation in whatever you do and products you offer, you are here to stay!