In the traditional approach to marketing, companies develop products or services and then implement strategies to help attract new customers to their business.
But times are changing. Today’s customers and clients drive a market, not just the business and profits. Therefore, businesses must tap into a market’s mood and provide what consumers want. This is where disruptive marketing, disruptive services and disruptive products take their cue.
What is a disruptive product?
When Apple introduced the iPad to the world, tech companies scrambled to catch up. Many manufacturers entering the tablet market used the Android operating system to run software on their devices. However, since they were trying to deliver a product similar to the iPad, with similar features and with a similar price, the Android tablet market couldn’t match the success of the iPad.
Meanwhile, Amazon was quietly developing the Kindle Fire. It didn’t have the same features, interface, or capabilities as an iPad—but it also didn’t have the same price. In a prime example of low-end market disruption, Amazon found consumers who didn’t want all the great features of the iPad, but wanted the basic features at a baseline price. Prior to the fourth quarter of 2011, the Kindle Fire wasn’t even available. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, it had grabbed more than half of the Android tablet market.
What is ‘disruptive marketing’?
In truth, disruption is more a business model than a marketing approach. Most businesses still tend to market through ‘traditional’ means, which provide plenty of opportunities for rival companies to disrupt current messages. However, customers and clients have become stubbornly resilient to shifting messages, thanks to an increasingly crowded market. To combat this, a company’s product or service must innovate and pay attention to consumers, delivering EXACTLY what the market wants.
A disruptive business has one of two goals: design its products or services to match the demand of an emerging market, or reshape an existing product or service to meet the demand of customers unsatisfied by the current offering. From this starting point, a marketing team designs an advertising campaign with disruptive messages that either challenges the conventional thinking in an existing market or speak to a brand new one.
Apple created a prime example of the latter approach when it introduced a truly innovative product through its online music store. When iTunes first launched, average music consumers wanted to purchase the songs they were hearing on the radio without necessarily buying an entire album from those artists. Singles were no longer available on compact disc, and the government was regulating online file-sharing sites such as Napster. By introducing a brand-new approach, iTunes delivered on the consumers’ desire to purchase one song by an artist, as well as their desire to avoid owning hours of music they weren’t going to listen to.
Small businesses attempting to employ disruptive marketing need to be prepared to change their business model, their outbound product or service, and the message they send to consumers. Depending on the size of the company, this can be a risky venture. However, maintaining the same business model over time can be even riskier. Just ask Kodak, which in less than 20 years went from the fourth most valuable brand worldwide to bankruptcy. Why? Because they weren’t prepared for customers to stop buying film and switch to digital photography. The market had been disrupted, and Kodak failed to adjust.
Who employs disruptive marketing?
Given the rapidly changing face of business and the technology supporting it, every company should at least prepare to use disruptive marketing. The most prominent industry currently employing market disruption is the technology industry. Computers, phones, the web, or any electronic device or service can be shipped as a minimally viable product, and then be updated regularly while already in the possession of its customers.
A broader target for disruption marketers, however, is any product or service that historically had only been accessible to consumers with either a lot of money or a lot of skill. One such example is Quick Books, currently being heavily advertised. The company was able to mediate a service that usually requires the expertise of a highly qualified individual - the accountant or “tax guy.” Quick Books offers a comparable degree of service at home, with the option of segmenting a customer’s time, and it’s cheaper.
The key in finding a company likely to use disruptive marketing is to see who is targeting emerging markets and/or making a product or service more accessible to customers in an existing market.
Is it time to disrupt your market? Is it time to disrupt your rivals? Is it time to innovate and just take the leap?
Or will you let everyone else do it…?