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November 14th, 2017

Market Disruption Requires Bold Thinking

So, how do you find a disruptive opportunity in your market? Bold moves based on rock solid research.

It starts with a brand mapping program. This is where you determine the most important brand and product attributes in the mind of your marketplace (made up of end customers, both yours and your competitors’).

First, rank the attributes in order of importance to the customer. Then rank your brand and key competitors in relationship to each other and to each attribute. You’ll start to see where you stand compared to your competition on the things customers value most.

Many marketers use brand mapping to position their product or service, but you’re missing an opportunity if you don’t also use this research to map your customers’ experience. This is where the product disruption nuggets are hiding. Once you discover them, you can build a strategy that will pay dividends.

Ferret out your strategic points of similarity and difference versus your competition. Look for customer experience attributes that are underperforming across your industry. If you can find a way to address a vital underperforming attribute, that’s huge. Innovation here is likely to be disruptive in the marketplace.

Shorty after I joined Techsonic Industries, we used a similar type of research to better understand the brand’s strengths and weaknesses as they related to end customers and our competitors.

One of the experience attributes that was ranked high in importance by the customers, but low for all of us, was that our sport fishing depth finder products were “hard to read in bright sunlight.” The industry standard used a flashing neon bulb to show the bottom depth and fish depth. Bright sunlight washed out the neon light. Companies worked for years on hoods and non-glare coatings to fix the existing screen—essentially just changing seats on the bus. However, it was only when we completely got off the bus by reinventing the screen as an LCD that the problem was solved and a major disruption in the sport fishing depth finder market occurred.

So, try choosing the few most important attributes that could move the needle for your company and market and then get off the bus with some bold thinking.

Look at how consumers actually use the products. Ask what need it is really filling. Identify potential areas for innovation. Then go out into the field and observe the issue your customers are experiencing firsthand.

If your research tells you the product is ripe for disruptive innovation, put the product on a separate development track. Disruptive innovation is made up of new and distinctive features that need to be nurtured in a separate and protected development process. Be careful not to skimp here or to compromise your short-term product line needs.

Most companies make their living by incrementally improving their products based on customer feedback. But bold companies that expand into new markets through disruption use bold thinking. And get bold results.

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