The red ocean or the blue?

I have recently read the “international bestseller” Blue Ocean Strategy and found it a very insightful read. A blue ocean is essentially an uncontested market space where there are no competitors allowing the company that creates it to excel. However, a blue ocean strategy is not just about delivering something customers want that hasn’t been delivered before, its also about delivering a value innovation for the company as well.

Typically main stream strategy theory suggests companies must either choose a high cost differentiation strategy or a low cost price led strategy. Companies that create blue oceans however simultaneously achieve low cost and differentiation.

Red Ocean Strategy

  • Compete in existing market space
  • Beat the competition
  • Exploit existing demand
  • Make the value-cost trade-off
  • Align the whole system of a firms activities with its strategic choice of differentiation or low cost

Blue Ocean Strategy

  • Create uncontested market space
  • Make the competition irrelevant
  • Create and capture new demand
  • Break the value-cost trade-off
  • Align the whole system of a firms activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost

While a company competing in a red ocean fights for existing customers that that market, a company competing in a blue ocean cultivates an entirely new set of customers as it creates an entirely new market space.

For example Cirque du Soleil didn’t just enter the existing market space of traditional circuses, it created an all new market and captured customers whom were not typically customers of the circus but customers whom were looking to be entertained.

It also reduced its costs when compared to traditional circuses by removing big name star performers and animals.

When Casella Wines introduced its ‘easy to drink’, ‘to be enjoyed by everyone’ wine Yellow Tail, to the US market, it took customers from the two distinctive wine markets – the high end and ultra cheap – and combined them with customers whom would normally drink beer, alcopops or cocktails, to create an entirely new market space.

It also reduced its costs by initially creating only one red and one white and bottling them in the same type bottle. Traditionally red wine and white wine had always been sold in two different styles of wine bottle.

In my next post I’ll explore some of the tools and frame works that have been created to both help identify and execute a blue ocean strategy.

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