A common misconception or myth in this case is that Blue Ocean Strategy is the same as innovation. They are not the same. There are countless examples of great innovations that didn’t lead to new markets or great value innovations.
A blue ocean of new customers comes from value innovations that are significant enough to appeal to new customers. Case in point? Shared Spirits. A company I’ve been a founder and partner in for years. The company rolled out a terrific suite of innovative technologies around the sharing of spirits, wine, and beer in restaurants and bars. There is a robust back end that allows brands to spend money promoting their brands via spends for cocktails, wine, and beer through a network of influencers associated with the brand and the on-premise establishment. Candidly, it’s a brilliant seamless tech offering and we felt it would be a rocket ship. NOT THE CASE. The primary blue ocean characteristic that was missing early on was value innovation. It didn’t deliver an immediate leap in value to the target audience. Brands and suppliers of spirits companies spending money on activations and tastings.
Fortunately, the company’s direction now is blue ocean focused. We’re looking across buyer groups, industry offerings, substitutions, and alternatives. We are focused solely on offering significant leaps in value for the targeted groups and also leveraging conversations around delivering the software to different industries entirely.
There are many examples of companies that have first to offer innovations to an industry. There were electric vehicles prior to Tesla. It was Tesla however, that delivered sufficient enough value innovation that masses of customers wanted the vehicle. In historical terms, Ford likely did it best with the Model T. In a short time period, the individuals that never though anything about automobiles were owning and driving them. Ford wasn’t the first. He was the first to provide sufficient value innovation.
This leads to questions inspired by the above graphic.
- What assumptions are there in your industry? Identify your industry’s sacred cows and ask why? Why are they sacred?
- What do you compete against? Identify and then ask, why? Why can’t we leapfrog those offerings altogether?
- What do your customers want? What are common threads between your customers and the customer’s needs in other industries altogether? What opportunities do those commonalities lead to? Are you willing to let some of your customers go to acquire vast new markets?
- What are your current assets and how are they weighing you down or holding you back? What can you do to serve a new audience?
- Should you really be maximizing your current offerings? What are the problems customers really need solved? Are you willing to look beyond your current offerings to solve those issues?
If you ask yourselves these five questions, you may find yourself leading your company and your team into new blue oceans of uncontested market space. I’m hoping that is the case.
If I may be of any service, count on it. I’d like to learn more about your business and encourage you to reach out. Let’s discuss Blue Ocean Strategy or strategy in general. Shoot me a message or schedule a zoom chat. I’m not actually in sales mode at present. It’s not the time. I’m in relationships mode.
Sherman G. Mohr is an Insead Certified Blue Ocean Strategist based in Nashville, TN.