To understand this fast follower strategy, you will have to understand the opposite which is the first mover strategy. First mover strategy is to take a lead in an innovation or product or method or even technology as against the fast follower strategy which is to copy an invention and make better or different or simply to a location where it has never been with the exact model.
The invention of Uber can be called a first mover disruption. The invention of more efficient messaging platforms like WhatsApp can be likened to the first mover strategy. In simple terms, it’s doing or launching a new system and innovation that never had been and doing that before anyone else. Despite this fast follower strategy that has become china’s business secret, Investopedia has ranked China to be the biggest economy in the world after America.
How did they reach here? What single strategy was responsible? and How can you apply it to your business?
Fast Follower Strategy: China’s biggest business secret
In a world where innovation and disruption are celebrated, China has chosen the alternative. If you cannot be the fowl that scratch the ground for food, stand behind the fowl and eat of her labour, what she dug out from the soil. A position China has chosen to stand with.
To understand this fast follower strategy, you will have to understand the opposite which is the first mover strategy. To be the First mover is to take a lead in an innovation or product or method or even technology. The invention of Uber can be called a first mover disruption. The invention of more efficient messaging platforms like WhatsApp can be likened to the first mover strategy. In simple terms, it’s doing or launching a new system and innovation that never had been and doing that before anyone else.
The advantage might be you reaping the first benefits and the demerit would mean other companies learning from your failure and then they launch to do better. This means you’ve saved them the cost of market research because by studying the first movers, they had gained all the data they needed to cause disruption.
These companies that copy or feed on the exploits of other companies, I choose to term them, followers. And in this case, China is a fast follower, maximizing the fast follower strategy
At the macro level, the single word for such progress is globalisation. taking things that work somewhere and making them work everywhere or elsewhere. China is the paradigmatic example of globalization. Its 20-year plan is to become like the united states is today. Nigeria too is in this class along with other developing nations.
The Chinese have been straightforwardly copying everything that has worked in the developed world. same with Nigeria. What business is in Nigeria today that hasn’t been elsewhere? Nigeria is simply copying but maybe not following fast as china would do.
The reverse of this is the first mover principle which involves the use of technology to cause disruption that other business can’t penetrate easily. To overthrow Google, where would you start? When they have more than 16 products/platforms actively earning them. They have made market entry almost impossible. The Nigeria environment would make the emergence of businesses like this almost impossible. If being innovative is hard, why not build on existing business and make it better or do it differently.
Launch a Google search engine, The Chinese would study it, ban it on their cyber space and launch theirs (Baidu). Launch a YouTube, they study it and launch almost exactly the same (Youku).
Amazon → DangDang
WORDPRESS, BLOGGER = SINA BLOGS
TWITTER = SINA WEIBO
EBAY = TAOBAO
WIKIPEDIA = HUDONG, BAIDU BAIKE
They simply stand behind the fowl and eat of her hard labour. They are fast followers. Most businesses in China are merely a replica of what is seen in other places and guess what? Their huge population makes their products market ready. They don’t easily fail. WhatsApp too is no exception, in fact, they did it better, thus the birth of wechat
The picture below is a comparison between WhatsApp and wechat
Apple’s success secret is not exempted from this fast follower principle. Apple isn’t the first smartphone. BlackBerry is the first I can remember. BlackBerry had class, was a quality brand everyone wanted to associate with but not until apple emerged. Apple followed fast. Maybe they did it better and different of course but the model and psychological feel between the two are almost not different. Just like wechat, Apple offered something better with a stronger brand
You don’t need to have an idea to do business. You can follow fast on an already existing one and make it better or different or even take the same exact idea to a geographical location where the originators can’t reach. Just know how to make an idea work
Top leading banks in Nigeria bring no new inventions, they simply stay awake in their industry to copy latest inventions made in the industry by the smaller banks. Sometimes, so fast that you think these big banks are the originators.
If you cannot invent, simply Stay awake in your industry and stand behind the fowl and eat of their hard labour.
The same principle of fast following strategy has been adopted by telecom companies in Nigeria. One offers a unique promo, others follow fast immediately. When one increases in value addition or price reduction, others follow suit, nobody wants to be left behind.
Is this always good? Not at all! But it sure saves you from extinction in your industry. If you do it better or at least differently, you might become the market leader just like Apple have emerged to become the most valuable brand. How did Apple do this?
The author of the book from zero to one has the opinion that this fast follower strategy will never make a nation a leading nation in the economic world. However, the result works for China and can work anywhere else. (Especially in developing nations that are trying to catch up)
Another lesson is this
no matter what business you do, someone somewhere is working hard to come up with something to take over your business. Whether you’re following or you’re disrupting, you’ve to keep up to your game.
So how can fast follower strategy work for you in your business?
Remember, fast follower strategy isn’t always the best, but if done better or different can make you a market leader.
1. Stay awake in your industry.
What is the leading invention in your industry? Schools now integrate virtual learning by incorporating the learning management system on their platform to earn more money from students their geographical location can’t reach.
2. Never discuss your inventions in public:
You don’t discuss business in public places. Let the execution do the public talk for you at least your competitors would be cut unaware. Chinese don’t announce their bans first, they develop the new, ban the old and then launch. No press gathering discussion on plans to ban
Take and make better or different. By this you save the cost of studying the market. one benefit of competition is that it shows the market is viable. just be different or be better. No wonder Apple has made their mantra to be Think different
THE APPLE BRAND EXPERIENCE
As the digital world takes over the marketing space swiftly, the Apple brand follows suit at the same pace. Unarguably, this’s a brand that goes the extra mile, exceeding expectations, leading and dominating the marketing platform in the tech world. Moreover, it has optimized customers’ experience and expectations.
With their superb products displayed in phone stores and slots, you can’t seem to not take a third look at them as you yearn to have one or more of their products in your possession. There’s this feeling of fulfillment that comes when you buy Apple products. Moreso, to others, it is an opportunity to earn respect, having a high-ranking placement in society.
Read More: MOST VALUABLE BRANDS 2020.
What does the Apple Brand represent?
The Apple brand has become a valuable asset and has successfully created a euphoric atmosphere, an all-new brand experience in the lives of their customers. Therefore, the brand represents creativity and passion.
The Apple brand personality is solely about lifestyle, imagination, actualization of dreams and aspirations, innovations, and liberty to the people through technology.
Apple is an I.T brand in which customers have fierce loyalty towards, having built a stellar reputation via voluntarily trading and accepting criticisms from customers. This is how apple creates value for customers, as they build strong convictions about its products compared to its competitors.
Read More: CREATING A BRAND THE APPLES WAY
7 Things Apple Brand Experience Mean To Customers.
Truthfully put, you can’t use an Apple product and remain an amarture technologically. There’s no pain agreeing to the fact that the Apple brand is incredibly powerful, technical and at the top echelons of I.T gadgets in the world. Customers take notice of recent models of its products introduced and surely, there’s always improvement recorded meeting their needs satisfactorily.
The Apple brand has build trust with its customers over the years. Its productivity rate has been remarkable over years. Apple has improved its brand’s customer experience in this regard to the benefit of consumers.
A different and counter case is with that of Nokia.
Apple brand experience means communication to customers. And this is another strategy it has taken to broaden its space in market positioning. Today, there are different options customers can switch to in order to air their views; make suggestions, ask for help, inquire about the product, and relate well and interact with the customer care representatives. All of these are lacking in other brand products but has created an edge for the Apple brand.
4. Simplicity In Complexity:
Apple products are often complex but appear to be simple still. Accordingly, the technique incurred is one that other brands need to learn and understand. Apple helps reduce the complexity of its products, in fact, it simplifies its users’ guide manual, web page, and detailed description and package. Apparently, the beautiful designs and structures of Apple products satisfy its customers. The company understands the need for its customers to be aware of the pros and cons of the utilization of their products. Hence, the use of simple, precise, and direct words were instrumental in passing information across to its customers, in their language.
5. Broadened Connectivity:
The Apple experience goes beyond its stores, that is, spreading its tentacles across various cities and locations in the world. Connectivity begins the moment you take a step in the purchasing journey, down to unveiling the product and utilizing it.
With the introduction of its thrilling features, the Apple brand never cease to amaze its customers, and the world at large. Apple depicts that everything is possible; every idea and dream is achievable, with determination and consistency.
Apple has shown that little things matter. Their acceptability has earned them the leading position in the world of tech. Hence, customers show more interest in the Apple brand as the company accept and act upon their feedback. This brings about the satisfaction of their needs.
There’s, indeed so much to learn from this tech giant.
Read More: How Apple built their brand
Why Nokia failed and 4 ways to protect your business
Why Nokia failed has been a hard nut to crack but with a lot of lessons on 4 ways to sustain your business that you easily might take for granted like the Nokia giant. Nokia was recognised as the king of phones but not until the evolution of smartphones began. This article isn’t centred alone on why Nokia failed, it also would show you 4 easy ways to sustain your business that Nokia neglected.
Nokia was the most valuable phone brand like what the Apple brand is today. It takes a lot to get to the top but it takes more to stay at the top. Studying the market disruption in the mobile industry that was pioneered by blackberry, there are majorly 4 reasons why Nokia failed. The same reasons brought the blackberry brand down and other top brands. Below are the business mistakes that reveal why Nokia failed and 4ways to sustain your business against these mistakes.
It’s easy to feel relaxed when you are dominating the market. Competition, not monopoly is what makes a brand ruthless in its market dominance. In an open market controlled by the forces of demand and supply, complacency is your biggest enemy.
The open market is like a jungle where the lion wakes up knowing if it must eat, it must have to outrun the fastest Gazelle and the Gazelle wakes up knowing that if it must remain alive, it would have to outrun the fastest lion.
Here is the lesson, No matter your market positioning and how much of the market share you have, you must understand that business somewhere, somehow, is making plans to disrupt and take your market share. It doesn’t matter if you’re enjoying a monopoly. This is the major reason why Nokia failed. When you have come to the top it’s important you start leading with innovations that make new market entrance almost impossible.
2. Nokia Lacked foresight.
Another reason why Nokia failed was a lack of foresight. When Nokia got to the top, they were more interested in building an ecosystem and collaboration within their mainstream platform just like what google had successfully done with their android ecosystem.
There move was right but their platform was the problem. This is like building a massive structure on a sinking soil. The era of Java mobile apps was just phasing out but they couldn’t see it. This is like climbing a ladder leaning on the wrong wall. Once the platform was phased out by market disruptions, their whole ecosystem collapsed.
Here is another lesson on why Nokia failed.
Going forward is not enough in business, it’s going forward in the right direction that’s important. The direction is more important than speed. Get your compass right before accelerating with speed.
3. Wrong partnership
There is every logical reason for Nokia to partner with Microsoft. They joined the leading operating system when it comes to computers. If people loved it on computers, they would surely love it on phones. This singular assumption contributed to why Nokia failed.
Nothing kills a business like a wrong partnership. Windows phones were different likewise iOS phones. What was the difference? Market acceptance. Apple built a brand that made customers believe they were buying more than a phone. They were buying quality value, class, and prestige thus, their prestigious pricing. Nokia started its recovery process with its freedom from the partnership.
Here is the lesson, not all partnerships are valuable in business, consider partnerships based on strengths and weakness, opportunities and threats it can bring to your business. Another lesson is that the assumption is not enough, data-based decisions are more important in pivoting a business.
4. Fast follower strategic plan should be handy
First-mover strategy pays off so much though not without its own disadvantages as I wrote in my last post on first-mover strategy: the success secret of American businesses. Nokia reaped of the enormous benefits of a first-mover in the mobile space but when disruption happened in the industry, the least they could have done was to follow fast on the new market leaders.
The first mover is to be the first to penetrate a market, first to start an innovation or first to introduce something new to the market or even create an entirely new market. Fast follower strategy is simply to copy what others are doing and making it better or taking it to a place it has never been. Why Nokia failed to apply this could be their desire to cause a more disruption that will gain them back their market share of simply a lack of finance and technical advantage required to fast which led to the partnership with Microsoft.
Here is the lesson to learn.
In business, be flexible enough to make changes. Grow big but remain small enough to make changes when needed. Big businesses lack the speed of execution due to the numerous gap in the management ladder from top-level managers to lower-level managers. Be small enough to be fast in making changes. This is one of the reasons small businesses disrupt the market before big businesses realize what is happening. This contributed as well to why Nokia failed.
THE COCA-COLA BRAND STORY: 5 Growth Attributes
For every brand strategy planned and implemented appropriately, there is a high tendency of it experiencing a skyrocketed growth level in all ramifications. Similarly, for every successful brand, there lie stories and lessons that follow afterward. Same applies with the Coca-Cola brand.
The Coca-Cola brand story remains invariably a big bang theory that rings through the heights and depths of the vast world of business.
The Journey So Far:
The Coca-Cola Company was established in 1886, when Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta got an idea to experiment a soft drink that’s refreshing and can be sold out. The idea birthed the excellent Coca-Cola drink and was well commended by everyone who tasted it.
However, the pharmacist, Dr Pemberton struggled to attain success because he had no marketing plan suitable for the drink. Fortunately, Dr Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson became very resourceful at that time. He gave the name “Coca-Cola” and designed the initial brand logo, which has been modified overtime. After a while, a man, Asa G. Candler took Coca-Cola out of Atlanta for the time. This saw to the astonishing feat the brand later attained globally.
One marketing effort embraced by the Coca-Cola brand is based around offering customers’ satisfaction, which is stemmed from creating sustainability of their strategic growth admired by all and sundry.
Coca-Cola Company is undoubtedly one of the best distribution networks in the world, as long as the beverage industry is concerned. Its market focus and growth strategy cannot be overemphasized. Owning to the fact that there are other beverage brands in the industry, the Coca-Cola brand remains topnotch and has since recorded tremendous successes in its market position.
Attributes That Sustained Coca-Cola Growth:
Brand success can be an easy task compared to its ability to sustain the success story. It all boils down to knowing the nitty-gritty of the strategic growth and sustainability of the brand’s growth.
So, what has helped sustained the growth of an iconic brand like the Coca-Cola brand?
The Coca-Cola Company’s vision statement is a strong influence on the company’s needs towards achieving the sustainability of a qualitative growth scheme. Its vision is, however, centered on fundamental growth factors. They include:
With the vision in sight, the brand never ceases to dish out fresh, exciting, noteworthy, and unique marketing campaigns for over 130 years. Coca-Cola brand identity has also gained firm market positioning in the hearts and minds of customers at all levels from generation to generation.
2. Wariness of Changes:
Change, as we know is universally constant. Marketers and brand owners in general, seem to shy away from big changes that are likely to occur. The fear of these changes resulting in a diminishing return is inevitable. The decisions made during such changes can either make or mar the brand and as such, it is paramount to be wary of changes.
With the excellent success recorded by the Coca-Cola brand so far, it might be a shocker alert to know that there have been mistakes made in the past which at some points affected the company’s growth. In its bid to satisfactorily meet the needs of customers, the company faced a terrible shift in branding and drink flavour compared to its counterparts.
Therefore, it is advisable to cogitate seriously when it comes to rebranding or restructuring. This is one factor Coca-Cola subscribed to, which of course has helped sustain its growth.
3. Maximizing the Brand’s Power:
The growth of the Coca-Cola company has stood over the years because of the maximization of their brand’s power. They’ve been able to focus on building a brand, rather than its products.
Most brands in the business world today, are still very much shaky and are on the verge of collapsing because they have the “my product, my pride” mentality. One secret is, your product or service is zero without a powerful brand. The Coca-Cola company has been able to sell their brand, their idea, and experience, rather than their product.
You will strongly agree that the Coca-Cola company is one that remains consistent in all areas. Regardless of the umpteen customers, they’ve attracted, they never cease to create awareness and come up with new and captivating marketing campaigns to attract both old and new target audiences. With the introduction of a new brand logo and product package, they still maintain their vision of refreshment to life, as well as putting smiles on the faces of all who have a taste.
What has helped sustained Coca-Cola growth, is their ability to stand firm on their values as a brand. Since conception, it stands on positive ideas and a determination to achieve the brilliant desired result. The Coca-Cola brand remains timeless.
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