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Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim

The metaphor of red and blue oceans describes the market universe. Red oceans are all the industries in existence today—the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody. Hence, the term red oceans.[ad#ad-4]

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored.

The corner-stone of Blue Ocean Strategy is ‘Value Innovation’. A blue ocean is created when a company achieves value innovation that creates value simultaneously for both the buyer and the company. The innovation (in product, service, or delivery) must raise and create value for the market, while simultaneously reducing or eliminating features or services that are less valued by the current or future market. The authors criticize Michael Porter’s idea that successful business are either low-cost providers or niche-players. Instead, they propose finding value that crosses conventional market segmentation and offering value and lower cost.

This idea was originally proposed by Prof. Charles W. L. Hill from Michigan State University in 1988. Prof. Hill claimed that Porter’s model was flawed because differentiation can be a means for firms to achieve low cost. Prof. Hill proposed that a combination of differentiation and low cost may be necessary for firms to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

Many others have proposed similar strategies. For example, Swedish professors Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström in their 1999 book Funky Business follow a similar line of reasoning. For example, “competing factors” in Blue Ocean Strategy are similar to the definition of “finite and infinite dimensions” in Funky Business. Just as Blue Ocean Strategy claims that a Red Ocean Strategy does not guarantee success, Funky Business explained that “Competitive Strategy is the route to nowhere”. Funky Business argues that firms need to create “Sensational Strategies”. Just like Blue Ocean Strategy, a Sensational Strategy is about “playing a different game” according to Ridderstrale and Nordstrom. Ridderstrale and Nordstrom also claim that the aim of companies is to create temporary monopolies. Kim and Mauborgne explain that the aim of companies is to create blue oceans, that will eventually turn red. This is the same idea expressed in the form of an analogy. Ridderstråle and Nordström also claimed in 1999 that “in the slow-growth 1990s overcapacity is the norm in most businesses”. Kim and Mauborgne claim that blue ocean strategy makes sense in a world where supply exceeds demand.

Source: Wikipedia

We also suggest this relevant article if you have time: Five Forces Analysis – Porter’s 5 forces


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  1. Nice post. The aim of BOS is not to out-perform the competition in the existing industry, but to create new market space or a blue ocean, thereby making the competition irrelevant. I think it is better to create new market space or a blue ocean rather than competing in the existing market. Blue Ocean Strategy consultant can be very helpful in this regard.

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