Marketing strategies come and go. What seemed novel and revolutionary in 2019 will likely seem quaint at best in 2022. But it’s even more likely it will seem simply antiquated.
It’s especially true in the realm of digital marketing. There’s an old marketing adage which states that demographics tend to be self fulfilling prophecies. But demographics change. And so do consumer habits. If a marketing strategy is going to have any hope of sustainability, it needs to adapt for the sake of its own survival.
Some strategies are more sustainable than others. Not because they’re flexible but because they work. The Blue Ocean Strategy is a perfect example. Ever since the theory was first published in a book of the same name in 2004, it’s become a mainstay of marketing and communications. And not just marketing and finance. Countries as diverse as Russia, Poland and Japan have hailed it as one of the most influential primers on economic and financial leadership of all time. But just what is the Blue Ocean Strategy? How does it affect you as a seller? And why is it critical to your success on Amazon?
What Is The Blue Ocean Strategy?
Briefly put, the Blue Ocean Strategy is a strategy which combines product differentiation and price advantage to open up entirely new markets — and subsequently, new demand. If it sounds like a simple concept crouched in marketing jargon, you may want to reevaluate just what it entails.
Neither markets nor standards are entirely set in stone; although for decades they appeared to be. Something shifted in the years following the digital revolution. Consumer needs changed. Former market outreach and boundaries were no longer dictated by the product, but by the consumer. And in order to adapt to this territory, marketing strategies needed to subsequently grow user-centric.
But with this increasing focus on the user, businesses began to realize just how elastic those boundaries actually were. They began to explore previously untested territories—and in many cases, succeeded. Market territories grew virtual, not physical, marketing models became entirely restructured and reimagined. And who was at the forefront of this shift?
Did Amazon Use the Blue Ocean Strategy?
If you guessed Amazon, we’re far from surprised.
When Amazon launched in 1995, the term eCommerce wasn’t even a coinage yet, much less part of the everyday consumer lexicon. In fact, there was no such thing as digital commerce. Consumers knew precisely what products they wanted and where to shop to obtain them. Or rather, they were told where to shop to obtain them.
There was no concept of virtual territory. Amazon didn’t dive head first into it. They created it.
Was it a novelty? Perhaps. But so was McDonalds. Was it convenient? Perhaps. But so was McDonalds. Was it a gamble? Absolutely. But how many companies can you think of who go public after only two years?
- Recognizing unexplored potential.
- Recognizing that risk leads to transformation.
- Transforming innovation into value.
- Developing a new model of consumer retail engagement.
- Presenting a higher cost advantage.
- Creating demand.
- Defining the boundaries of that demand.
- Fulfilling that demand.
- Creating a model of customer experience which remains unparalleled.
Keep in mind that physical retail prior to 1995 was not exactly in any sort of slump. At that time, there were an estimated 394 different shopping malls in the U.S. which had over 1 million square feet. But in 2019, more than 8,600 brick and mortar retailers announced their closure, immediately following a 2018 report from Credit Suisse predicting a further decline in shopping malls in excess of 20 percent.
Is Amazon entirely to blame for the decline in brick and mortar sales? Not exactly. But it’s hard to think of any major retailer which doesn’t maintain online shopping functionality. All of whom owe a significant debt to Amazon and their willingness to take a chance on the risk of digital commerce.
Which Other Companies Use the Blue Ocean Strategy?
There are many companies other than Amazon that have successfully used the blue ocean strategy to gain competitive advantage in their industries. Which others?
One example is Starbucks, the global coffee chain that achieved significant growth following the introduction of its pioneering “coffee as a destination” model. This innovative strategy took aim at the traditional breakfast and lunch model and encouraged customers to think of Starbucks not just as a place to buy coffee, but as a destination for socializing and relaxing. By giving consumers more options and formats for consuming coffee – including drive-thru outlets, cafes, and home delivery – Starbucks made great use of the blue ocean strategy in order to achieve success in an already crowded industry.
Other examples include Zara, Whole Foods Market, and Spotify, all of which saw remarkable growth by pursuing unconventional strategies to create new markets within their respective industries. Whether by taking aim at established business models or moving into untapped customer segments, these innovative companies have all demonstrated the power of using a blue ocean approach to stand out from the crowd.
The Blue Ocean Strategy And The Color More Lines Approach
When we first started Color More Lines, our goal was to help mission-driven businesses succeed in Amazon and beyond. And that still hasn’t changed.
But we’re not in the market to take on every single client who comes our way. According to a 2019 survey from UK-based digital ad agency Marketing Signals, 90 percent of eCommerce startups fail within 120 days. The survey found that the chief culprits were poor online marketing performance and a lack of search engine visibility. We’re inclined to agree; but that’s only half the story.
The digital landscape is littered with casualties who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns. They had great SERP. They invested heavily in PPC. They had significant funding. And it resulted in high visibility. And yet they still failed. Why?
They lacked the two fundamental pillars of success in eCommerce: differentiation and innovation.
Not every company is going to have a product line that’s revolutionary. You may even be one of them. But innovation and differentiation doesn’t just extend to your product line. It extends to all aspects of your company. Your packaging. Your service. Your marketing. And a lack of it in any one particular aspect can diminish the overall customer experience.
Are you paying attention to what consumers want from a product ahead of time—or are you assuming you already know what they need? Are you paying attention to how competitors aren’t fulfilling their current needs? Or are you too busy trying to copy the formula of their success? More importantly, do you even have the customer in mind at all?
You may add value to your customers. But the real value of your business is your customers themselves. That should be your mission. That requires risk. And those are the sort of clients we choose to work with. Not you. Your customers.
Ready to put the Blue Ocean strategy to work for your eCommerce business? Getting access to fast flexible financing to execute your strategy will give you a leg up on the competition. Payability has the fastest, most reliable financing options in the industry. Get the cash you need to scale your business quickly and easily, apply today.