Firewood plus blue ocean strategy equals value innovation. In the Fall of 2020, my wife and I went to a local Lowes store to secure a small bundle of wood for a fire pit that evening. The weather had turned cool and the experience of burning a few logs on our back patio for the first time in two years was exciting to us.
For years, in a single-family detached home, we were easily doing a firepit on average, twice a week. Over the last couple of years, the condo restrictions had us a little gun shy about whether or not to do a fire pit on our back patio.
I decided to find a bucket big enough to hold two or three logs and have a fire pit. Having made it to the store, all the bundles of logs were sold out. I wasn’t the only one with the idea for that evening’s entertainment. Also, there was no bucket or pale that was the correct size for my needs. So what to do.
I saw a stack of Light’ n Go GO LOG™s from Eco Forest. I bought the log, suspecting I would no be the least bit satisfied. But heck, for $10 bucks, the risk was worth it. I have to admit, growing up in the country and having burned wood and coal in a stove for heat didn’t lead to excitement in my paying $10 for a single log!
Later that evening, I placed the GO LOG™ in an appropriate location on my patio and lit it up. It wasn’t quite the one match light that was advertised on the cover but once the log was lit, it was beautiful.
I immediately began to understand the impressive blue ocean strategy implementation around this company’s move. They may realize it, they may not, but something incredibly strategic was at play when Eco Forest made a move away from traditional bundles.
The products are patented. Yes, the cuts made in the wood are an engineering marvel and are patentable. After years of cutting and splitting wood, never would I have imagined prior to business, strategy, and specifically Blue Ocean Strategy training that a log’s design could be made patentable.
What happened that evening was remarkable and confirmed for me the company’s brand promise and values were indeed true and deliverable. They had been delivered to me.
So where is the Blue Ocean story here?
Blue ocean strategists look for companies that break the value/cost tradeoff. Most red ocean competitors simply increase price along with an increase in some perceived value for the buyer. In the firewood business, this would look like a custom delivery, where the delivery person stacked the wood neatly somewhere and put you on a priority delivery schedule. Oftentimes traditional red ocean competitors make a move to decrease the value proposition in coordination with a lower price. So your wood is cheap from this provider but it’s green and you have to pick it up yourself.
Value innovation in blue ocean terms means the company has lowered its cost while sustaining above-market pricing while still adding value to the consumer.
Graphically, it’s represented in the image.
Eco Forest leveraged an Estonian engineered design to deliver an incredible experience to consumers. The As-Is Strategy Canvas of the firewood industry may look something like the image below.
The canvas demonstrates that price, convenience, and ease of use are higher for GO LOG™ than in the typical firewood industry. The ease of disposal is higher with GO LOG™ as well. While the GO LOG™ wouldn’t necessarily be a fit for high volume users who have to burn volumes of firewood for primary warming purposes, for the casual firepit user, the GO LOG™ is an extremely strong contender for pre-eminent blue ocean dominance.
Eco Forest eliminated the need for kindling, a firepit construction or mobile firepit enclosure, they reduced the process of building a fire with twigs, lighter fluid, logs, etc. They raised the experience level by using birch with its lovely scent and created a turnkey firepit experience by engineering a specific series of patented woodcuts that lead to oxygen flow within the cut of the log that automate the pace and nature of its burning pattern.
During the entire process of seeing the log burn, I never had to feed the fire, tend to the log, or wonder about what its burn pattern would lead to uneven burning.
In closing, blue ocean strategy and the pursuit of uncontested market space may have been the goal of Eco Forest or maybe not. However, asking blue ocean strategy questions stemming from the Six Paths Framework would have certainly led any thoughtful local firewood producer to a similar place.
Through asking the right questions, answering them with consistent fieldwork, and implementing decisions that flow from the ERRC grid, Eco Forest has ended up with a winner with distribution all over the North American continent. Take a look at their distribution in the images below. this isn’t your typical mom and pop firewood provider with a pickup and a sign at your local strip mall parking lot.
If blue ocean strategy implementations are of interest to you and your company, please contact me, Sherman G. Mohr, The Blue Ocean Strategist. A complimentary Blue Ocean Strategy chat about your business, ideas, struggles, or victories is always of interest.