The ‘Blue Ocean’ Mentality: How To Be Unfair and Make Competition Irrelevant

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by Ralph Layco | ExecutiveChronicles.com |

It makes me very concerned when I take a stroll in the shopping mall and I see a brand with a new line of products that reminds me of another product in the same category instantly. I can judge in a second the stress levels of the brand manager or the entrepreneur who started it.“That sounds exactly like Nike!”“That is another whitening soap”

“Yeah, a new tea shop. But nothing new to me”

The moment your customer regards that you’re a “me-too”, that’s when the product just got appointed of a death sentence.

What is it about taking market share and competing head on with an already aggressive market space that entrepreneurs still believe they can win? Why settle for a #4 or worse, #8 in the market and still believe you’ll be number one? That is not just ever realistic. We’ve seen the long battle of Pepsi never getting to number one against Coca-cola no matter the millions they spend for advertising or how long (decades just so you know) they’ve been competing.

And worse, when you know you’ll be in the losing end of the game, why even join the same chain when you’ll be obviously insignificant? Isn’t your brand striving for significance beyond profit?

When I started Macho Mucho Salon For Men, we were clear what we are and what we’re not. Conceptwise, we’re a hybrid barbershop and salon for men with a masculine ambience. What we are is a grooming salon that caters to every man’s need, from barber services, to nail grooming, to salon services. What we’re NOT is we’re not a salon, and not a barbershop by classification.

As much as our neighboring salon would like to compete with us and regain their male market, they are having the most difficult time because we don’t qualify as a salon. Barbershops couldn’t too. We made the competition irrelevant, and we created a market space we dominate solo and it’s ours to play. Also, because our clients find us unique without a point of comparison (for now), we sustain our leadership.

When you’re a starting entrepreneur, a highly contested market space is the hardest arena to participate in because you get to be knocked out most of the time when the leading brands innovate, or when they create unfair promotions while you have a learning curve to work on!

So how do you make the competition irrelevant?

Fundamentally it’s about positioning yourself to win before you even start.

By concept, ‘red ocean strategy’ is traditional strategic thinking; joining the existing market, competing with them head on and striving to steal market share by time. When you’re a starting entrepreneur, a highly contested marketspace is the hardest arena to participate in because you get to be knocked out most of the time when the leading brands innovate, or when they create unfair promotions while you have a learning curve to work on (eeek!)

Blue Ocean strategy, on the other hand, is choosing the less path taken. It’s creating an uncontested market. It’s making the competition irrelevant. It’s creating and capturing new demand. How I see it, ‘blue ocean’ can be mastered or operated as a mentality. When you have a blue ocean mentality, you look for markets that you’re passionate and interested in, flip it around, unlock new value and design the business model where you’ll not be acknowledged as a me-too. Instead, your goal when you enter a market is when your customers will remark “Now, this is interesting” or “This is so much better than my go-to brand” This mentality is about designing the game and positioning where you can win.

This is how ‘Blue Ocean’ looks like; creating a subcategory, disrupting a business model, solidly curating and devoting to a niche, going black when competition is white, positioning as a low-cost airline when players are competing with premium price, selling emotions when players sell luxury, selling coffee like an affordable luxury and build a community around it when market is fine with cheap coffee, selling electric cars when most car brands are still selling either hybrid or petrol car.

In this highly segmented market, a growing number of subcultures and evolving taste and standards, going Blue Ocean shouldn’t be just a strategy, it’s the rule.
Playing in a ‘red ocean’ is like entering as a mistress in a market, always asking for attention when you’re not first in mind. Just an option.

So start rethinking your game. Leave it when you know you can’t win. Life is short to play runner-ups. Playing in a ‘red ocean’ is like entering as a mistress in a market, always asking for attention when you’re not first in mind. Just an option.

Always go “Blue Ocean” and make your competitors hate you for being unfairly well positioned.

About Ralph
Ralph Layco is maverick entrepreneur, speaker and columnist for ExecutiveChronicles.com. He mentors young startuppers and lives in General Santos City in the Philippines. He is the Founder and CEO of hair care brands Macho Mucho and Hairfood Co.