BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY: What Is the Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy
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Companies strive to differentiate themselves and secure a profitable position in the market in the vast ocean of business competition. While many resorts to battling fiercely in overcrowded sectors, there exists a groundbreaking approach that offers a more fruitful path—the Blue Ocean Strategy. This strategy revolutionizes conventional thinking by urging organizations to explore uncharted market spaces rather than compete in saturated ones. It emphasizes the creation of uncontested market space by identifying and satisfying untapped customer needs, allowing businesses to break free from the constraints of traditional competition.

In this article, we embark on a journey to uncover the core principles of the Blue Ocean Strategy. We will examine its profound impact on businesses worldwide, explore captivating real-life examples, and learn how companies can apply this transformative framework to unlock new growth opportunities and redefine their industries.

What Is the Blue Ocean Strategy?

Blue Ocean Strategy is a business strategy concept introduced by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their book titled “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant.” Published in 2005, the book proposes a framework for businesses to find new, untapped market spaces, or “blue oceans,” rather than competing in overcrowded and highly competitive existing markets, known as “red oceans.” The strategy emphasizes creating new demand rather than battling for existing market share. It involves identifying customer pain points, seeking innovative value propositions, and developing a unique offering. The aim of this is to set you apart from the competition. It also focuses on pursuing differentiation and low cost simultaneously. This will ensure that companies carve out their own uncontested market space, where competition becomes irrelevant, and growth potential skyrockets.

In a red ocean, companies compete fiercely for the same customers, by offering similar products or services. This results in price wars and diminishing profit margins. This strategy encourages organizations to shift their focus from competing within existing market boundaries to creating new market spaces where competition is irrelevant.

Understanding the Blue Ocean Ocean Strategy

The key idea behind the strategy is to simultaneously pursue differentiation and low cost, creating a unique value proposition for customers while driving down costs. This involves identifying and developing innovative business ideas, value propositions, and market segments that have been overlooked or underserved by existing players.

The authors present a systematic approach for creating blue oceans, which involves analyzing the existing industry structure, identifying factors to eliminate, reduce, raise, or create, and formulating a strategy to implement these changes. By doing so, companies can create a leap in value for customers and achieve sustainable, profitable growth.

Principles Of The Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy is only useful if its principles are put into practice. These tenets are the foundation upon which the success of a strategy in an organization rests. The following are the principles of this strategy:

#1. Rebuild Market Boundaries

The primary goal of the blue ocean approach is to find uncontested niches in the market that can sustain a company’s growth for years to come. This paves the way for businesses to explore new frontiers and also innovate.

#2. Pay Attention to the Big Picture

According to this theory, companies should ignore trivial details in favor of working toward a grand objective. Focusing on the numbers-heavy operational areas should take a back seat to develop a solid strategy and thorough processes. To achieve this, you can use the canvas drawing. According to wallstreetmojo, there are four stages involved in creating a precise canvas drawing: visual awakening, visual exploration, visual strategy fair, and communication.

#3. Disrupt the Existing Demand

Any organization that truly wants to record success with the strategy must be willing to abandon tried-and-true methods and go out into untapped markets in search of new clients. This is because growing their current audience allows them to better target specific demographics, which in turn boosts their market share. Since companies can’t possibly achieve this in well-established markets, they need to go in the opposite direction and seek out untapped ones.

#4. Get the Strategic Sequence Right

The fourth rule states that businesses must plan their strategies in the optimal order, taking into account factors including cost, utility to customers, rate of adoption, and pricing. Generally, the company stands to gain significantly from a well-executed plan.

#5. Overcoming Organizational Hurdles

According to this guiding principle, a winning tactic must first and foremost focus on removing internal roadblocks.

#6. Construct a Competent Team to Drive Strategy Execution and Performance

The last principle of the tenet emphasizes the importance of assembling a competent team of employees to drive the blue ocean strategy’s execution and performance.

How to Create the Blue Ocean Strategy?

Two strategies exist for developing successful blue ocean methods and they are as follows;

#1. Six-Path Framework

The six-path framework is something that must be adopted if you intend to use the Blue Ocean Strategy. The six-path framework is actually the six principles of the strategy. 

In addition to the following, ensure to research the current market, including customers, rivals, and industry. Businesses can pinpoint the elements that can drive value innovation for their clientele. As a result, a previously untapped market or niche will emerge.

#2. Four Actions Framework

In addition to the six-path, the four-actions framework is another strategy that must be adopted. The focus of this framework is as follows;

  • Boost (by pinpointing key value contributors)
  • Get rid of (by cutting out wasteful expenditures).
  • Having fewer products or services available can help you save money.
  • Create a strategy canvas.

Blue Ocean Strategy Example

One prominent example of the Blue Ocean Strategy is Cirque du Soleil. Traditionally, the circus industry operated in a highly competitive and declining market, with numerous circuses battling for the same audience by offering similar acts and attractions. Cirque du Soleil, however, chose to create a blue ocean by redefining the concept of a circus.

Instead of focusing on animal acts and traditional circus elements, Cirque du Soleil combined elements of theater, music, dance, and acrobatics to create a unique and visually stunning experience. They also targeted a new market segment by appealing to adults and families looking for a sophisticated and artistic form of entertainment.

By eliminating certain elements of the traditional circus, such as animal performances and the big top tent, Cirque du Soleil was able to reduce costs. At the same time, they raised the bar in terms of production value, artistic performances, and storytelling, creating differentiated and high-quality products.

Because traditional circuses did not cater to this new audience, Cirque du Soleil was able to stand out and draw them in. They successfully created a blue ocean of uncontested market space where they faced little direct competition.

The success of Cirque du Soleil demonstrated how this strategy can help companies break away from competition and also establish themselves in new markets. By challenging industry assumptions and offering a unique value proposition, they were able to achieve rapid growth and become a global leader in the entertainment industry.

 Blue Ocean Strategy Books

There are two popular books on blue ocean strategy. Both books delve into the strategic thinking and practical methods necessary to identify and seize new market opportunities. They also illustrate how companies can break away from competition and create uncontested market space by offering unique value to customers.

The following are two primary books associated with the Blue Ocean Strategy framework:

#1. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne:

This is the original book that introduced the Blue Ocean Strategy concept. It provides an in-depth explanation of the framework, case studies, and practical guidance for implementing the strategy. It outlines the principles, tools, and methodologies needed to identify and create blue oceans of new market opportunities.

#2. Blue Ocean Shift Beyond Competing: Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne:

Building upon the concepts presented in the first book, “Blue Ocean Shift” offers a step-by-step guide on how to apply the Blue Ocean Strategy framework in practice. It provides practical examples, real-life case studies, and actionable advice for organizations seeking to shift from red-ocean competition to blue-ocean creation.

What Are the 4 Strategies of Blue Ocean Strategy?

The following are the 4 strategies of the blue ocean strategy;

  1. Create
  2. Reduce
  3. Raise
  4. Eliminate

What Is Blue & Red Ocean Strategy?

Blue Ocean Strategy and Red Ocean Strategy are two contrasting approaches to strategic thinking and competition.

The Blue Ocean Strategy is a framework that focuses on creating uncontested market spaces, or “blue oceans,” where competition is irrelevant or minimal. It involves finding new market opportunities and creating value for customers in innovative ways. It emphasizes value innovation, which means pursuing both differentiation and low costs simultaneously to break the value-cost trade-off. By identifying and targeting noncustomers and utilizing the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC) grid, businesses can create new demand and open up new market spaces, enabling them to grow and thrive in a less competitive environment.

On the other hand, the Red Ocean Strategy represents the traditional competitive landscape, where companies compete within existing market spaces known as “red oceans.” In a red ocean, companies vie for the same customers, offering similar products or services and engaging in intense competition based on price, features, or other competitive factors. The goal of the “red ocean strategy is to outperform rivals, gain market share, and maximize profits within the existing industry boundaries. Red ocean competition often leads to shrinking profit margins and limited growth opportunities.

While the red ocean strategy focuses on competing in existing markets by battling against rivals, the blue ocean strategy emphasizes creating new market spaces and making the competition irrelevant. The Blue Ocean Strategy encourages companies to shift their focus from competing within the existing industry to creating innovative value for customers and finding untapped market opportunities. By doing so, businesses can differentiate themselves, attract new customers, and achieve sustainable growth.

However, the Blue Ocean Strategy offers a more forward-thinking and innovative approach to business strategy, enabling companies to escape the confines of fierce competition and discover new avenues for success.

What Is a Blue Ocean Strategy and Its Advantage?

Blue Ocean Strategy offers a strategic framework that enables businesses to break free from the confines of existing markets, differentiate themselves from competitors, and create new uncontested market spaces. By doing so, companies can achieve sustainable growth, profitability, and long-term success. The following are some of the key advantages of implementing this strategy;

#1. Market Creation

The Blue Ocean Strategy enables businesses to create new market spaces that are uncontested, allowing them to become market leaders and set their own rules. By identifying unmet customer needs or exploring new customer segments, companies can position themselves as pioneers and enjoy a first-mover advantage.

#2. Reduced Competition

By entering uncontested market spaces, businesses can avoid direct competition with existing players, which often leads to price wars and margin erosion. This strategy helps companies shift the focus from beating competitors to creating superior value for customers, thereby reducing competition and improving long-term profitability.

#3. Differentiation

The Blue Ocean Strategy emphasizes the creation of unique and innovative offerings that stand out from existing market offerings. By delivering exceptional value in areas that are important to customers, businesses can differentiate themselves and build strong brand loyalty. This differentiation creates a perceived uniqueness that makes competition irrelevant.

#4. Increased Profitability

By creating new market spaces and offering differentiated products or services, companies can capture new customer segments and command higher prices. The Blue Ocean Strategy enables businesses to escape the confines of existing market boundaries and tap into new sources of revenue and profit, leading to sustainable growth and increased profitability.

#5. Innovation and Creativity

The Blue Ocean Strategy encourages businesses to think outside the box and challenge industry norms. It promotes a mindset of innovation and creativity, pushing companies to develop groundbreaking ideas and concepts that can disrupt markets and drive success.

Is Starbucks a Blue Ocean Strategy?

Yes, Starbucks is a great case study of how the Blue Ocean Strategy may be successfully executed. When Starbucks first opened, the coffee shop competition was already rather strong. Starbucks, instead of focusing on coffee, has built its brand on being unique, a tactic that has yet to be fully explored in the coffee industry.

What Are the Three Components of the Blue Ocean Strategy?

  1. Value Innovation
  2. Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create Grid
  3. Noncustomers.

What Is Amazon’s Blue Ocean Strategy?

Yes, Amazon is an example of the blue ocean strategy.


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