Optimizing your customer experience strategy may be fundamental to your business, on Amazon or off. But have you stopped to consider your market space strategy?
More specifically, the opportunity of your market space strategy.
Marketing strategies come and go. What seemed novel and revolutionary in 2015 will likely seem quaint at best in 2023. But it's even more likely it will seem simply antiquated.
Market Space, Strategy and Opportunity
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.
That means knowing your market boundaries. And it also means knowing an opportunity when you see it.
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 authored by Renee Mauborgne and Chan Kim in 2004, it's become a mainstay of marketing and communications.
And not just marketing and communications. 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 business strategy which combines product differentiation, new services and price advantage to create an entirely new market space — and subsequently, new demand.
If it sounds like a simple concept crouched in marketing jargon, you may want to reevaluate just what it entails.
What the blue ocean strategy entails isn't a simple formula of maximizing available space. Or optimizing profits. Above all, the blue ocean strategy implies a complete reimagination of existing spaces and how to exceed them.
The Blue Ocean Market Strategy and Market Space
The blue ocean strategy argues that any uncontested market space (what can be conveniently dubbed a "blue ocean market") constitutes an opportunity for product and service differentiation by dint of its uniqueness.
It's precisely this differentiation and low cost of blue ocean markets which drives innovation in business. In contrast, a red ocean strategy means competing in saturated markets—frequently with commercial rivals fighting viciously over a shrinking profit pool.
The blue ocean approach makes competition irrelevant. It doesn't just mean new market space. It means your very own market.
The Blue Ocean Shift and the Digital Shift
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. And so did consumer influence. Market space was no longer dictated by the product, but by the consumer.
In order to adapt to this territory, marketing strategies needed to subsequently grow customer centric.
Market Boundaries and Growth
But with this increasing focus on consumers, businesses began to realize just how elastic those market boundaries actually were. They began to explore previously untested territories—and in many cases, succeeded.
Formerly confined industry boundaries expanded. And markets grow virtually, not physically. Marketing models had to be entirely restructured and reimagined. Who was at the forefront of this shift?
If you guessed Amazon, we're far from surprised.
How Amazon Came To Define The Blue Ocean Strategy
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 at first. Was it convenient? Perhaps. But so was McDonalds. Was it a gamble? Absolutely. But how many companies can you think of who went public after only two years in existence?
The result is a company valued in excess of $1 Trillion in 2022 and a 9.4 percent share of all U.S. retail spending—physical and digital. It did so by:
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
Defining the boundaries of that demand
Fulfilling that demand
Creating a model of customer experience which remains unparalleled
The Amazon Effect on the Retail World
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.
Amazon didn't eliminate competition. It created an entirely new market space for it to adapt to.
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 some form of 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.
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 also 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 Blue Ocean Strategy and the Future of eCommerce
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 area 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. And that mission requires risk.
Those are the clients we choose to work with. Not you. Your customers.
At Color More Lines, we optimize eCommerce brands with a mission. Find out more at Color More Lines.