How health brand marketers can create new market space – a case study in customer empathy
The main goal of Blue Ocean strategy is to create new uncontested market space, by expanding existing industry boundaries or expanding well beyond them. The only way to beat the competition, according to Blue Ocean Strategy authors Kim & Mauborgne, is to stop trying to beat the competition. Instead, focus on creating and capturing new customer demand (and providing greater customer value at a lower cost) to make your competition irrelevant.
Afterheels is a great example of a company that has created its own blue ocean. Their concept is brilliant, and simple. Women who spend the night dancing in their heels are in pain, and can’t wait to take their shoes off. Separate from carrying an extra pair of shoes in their bag, or walking barefoot through the streets, no other alternatives existed. Afterheels seized the opportunity and started selling their flats in vending machines at nightclubs.
Afterheels looked across the rules of play in their industry – across product, assortment, service, delivery, pricing, functional/emotional appeals, marketing – and created their own strategy canvas. They zigged, while others zagged. Created their own blue ocean instead of fighting in the same shark-infested red oceans with other shoe manufacturers and retailers.
Following the blue ocean strategy Four Action Framework, Afterheels has:
- eliminated the need to visit the store to buy a pair of shoes
- reduced price barriers and complexity, selling limited styles and colors
- raised the level of convenience, flats right there when you need them
- created and captured new demand, and a following of very happy women
Here are my key takeaways:
- Observing and seeing the world through the experiences of your customers opens up opportunities to create greater (game-changing) value.
- If you do number one, existing industry conventions will naturally fall by the wayside and new blue ocean opportunities will become apparent.
- Don’t take things for granted. Look across key elements of product, service, and delivery, and challenge all the “supposed” rules of the game.
- Breaking the value-cost tradeoff can reap big rewards for brand and customer.
- The size of the ocean doesn’t matter as much as the re-energizing and differentiating value you provide to customers.