Blue Ocean Shift Book Summary: Strategies and Learnings
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
I have broadened my horizons.
I am no longer reading only marketing books, but business books in general.
The book ‘Blue Ocean Shift by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne’ talks about how businesses are focussed on beating their competition.
When in fact, at times, that should not even be your focus.
The focus should be around making your competition irrelevant.
Let me explain this in simple terms, each industry today has multiple brands/products.
There is cutthroat competition everywhere.
Given this scenario, isn’t it better to make your own race where you are the only player?
Or is it better to keep competing against many others in your league, hoping to grab the first spot?
Obviously, the former.
The book is for that 54 year old businessman, who feels his business directions are haywire.
It’s also for that 26 year old entrepreneur who has just decided to start his own business.
This is because you can come across business saturation at any point in your life.
That’s when this much needed blue ocean shift, plays a major role.
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What is the Blue Ocean Shift?
The book differentiates the market scenario into two categories.
One, being the red ocean, this is where a lot of brands operate- where there is tremendous competition.
The other one, being the blue ocean, where there is minimal to no competition, this is where the brands must focus.
Blue ocean shift, is like a road-map to move your team and your business away from the red ocean to reach new heights.
The Blue Ocean Shift 5-step framework
The Blue Ocean Shift comprises of a 5 step process.
No step should be replaced, and no step must be interchanged in order to ensure success.
Let’s look at this framework in brief
Now let's look at each of them in detail
Step 1: Get Started
Try to get a good understanding of where do you wish to reach, what are the products or business objectives you wish to target.
Start by narrowing down the areas where you have the most to gain, and then build a team to help reach your goal.
Step 2: Understand your current state
Now, this is not a mistake.
There is a reason why this is not the first step.
When you decide to work towards your goal, it’s crucial to not feel satisfied with where you are already.
Only when you know the answer to where you want to be in the future, can you look at your present, to understand the steps you need to incorporate to reach there.
Step 3: Know the answer to ‘What’s stopping you?’
When you know the steps required for you to reach where you want to be, it's also important to know what’s stopping you from getting there.
Is the problem internal or external?
Is there a way to work around it?
Step 4: Move from generic to specific
This is extremely crucial.
Let’s say, for example, my goal is to reach maybe a 1000 subscribers at the end of this month, that’s a general goal I have.
However, now it’s time to get around working on specific steps that will lead me to this goal.
What are the blue ocean shifts I need to make, in order to ensure I reach the general goal?
Step 5: Launch your Blue Ocean strategy
Now it’s time to pick, test, and incorporate your blue ocean strategy.
The book is broadly divided into two parts, first being contextual with respect to understanding the framework and the other more focussed towards the learning.
Here are my top learnings from the book:
1. Within consumer pain points, lies new opportunities
There is no doubt that good businesses solve consumer problems.
However, if the problems are not that evident, how do we work around them?
So it’s crucial to figure out consumer problems- that’s where the Buyer Utility Map comes in.
Look at the image below- this is the Buyer Utility Map recommended by the author
Image Source: Blueoceanstrategy.com
It’s important to understand each stage that the customer goes through while purchasing a product/brand.
For example, if your product is an Umbrella, the most important criteria for a consumer might be the sturdiness.
Or for another majority, it might be the design.
What are the pain points then that your product aims to solve when it comes to these important aspects?
The answer to this question helps you to decide your offering- or in most cases, helps you alter your offering to suit the needs of the consumers.
2. To create your own Blue Ocean, you must learn to create new markets
Most of the time, we might feel that a new innovative idea is all it takes to make your business move in a new direction.
But is that so? I guess not
Are you telling me that every unique idea that ever struck a brilliant mind has always led to success?
Of course not!
It’s the way this new idea is approached, that makes all the difference
There are three ways in which you can create new markets, let’s look at them below-
a) Disruptive Innovation
Disruptive Innovation is when new innovations in product/distribution beat out the older ones and cause a ‘disruption’ in the industry.
Let’s look at an example-
Image Source: cavincare.com
Chik shampoo believed in the ideology that “what the rich man can enjoy, the common man should be able to afford”.
This led to them coming up with a disruptive innovation of launching their shampoo in the form of 0.50 paise sachet.
Now we clearly know how amazing this turned out to be since today there is not a single shampoo brand not experimenting with sachets.
b) Non-disruptive Creation
Unlike Disruptive innovation, this one is not concerned with replacing or destroying a previous market.
Non-disruptive creation involves coming up with a solution for a previously unsolved problem.
So the focus here is around problem-solving.
Let’s look at an example-
Image Source: Dribbble.com
One of the most important applications in every Mumbaikar’s phone.
I am including this under non-disruptive creation because the aim of the app was to solve a problem that most of the people traveling by trains faced- knowing the schedule of trains.
It acted as a one-stop solution to know train details and also get updated on the status.
c) Redefining an existing problem
This one involves re-looking or changing the way a problem is perceived by individuals.
Then coming up with a solution for this re-defined problem.
An example of this can be ITC Master Chef ready to eat meals.
Image Source: itcmasterchef.com