Disrupt the status quo in order to grow

Recently I wrote a piece for Brand Matters, our monthly review of what is new in the world of brand marketing, about the need to break out of the comfort zone. In this post I thought I would explore a few different examples of how a brand found growth beyond the edge of the comfort zone.

My observation of the few brands that grew over five years suggests that they all did something disruptive, something that changed the way they served customers, went to market or communicated with their target audience. These brands were not simply repeating a marginally different version of what they did the previous year, but doing something radically different based as a result of anticipating their customers’ needs, wants and desires.

The most obvious example of disruption is the launch of the Apple iPhone and because it is so obvious I am not going to dwell on it other than to say that it was a classic example of functional innovation that changed consumer expectations and disrupted an established category. However, too many of us get fixated on the idea that innovation only applies to a brand’s product or service. So let’s have a quick look at some other innovative and disruptive activities.

I love the example of Clear shampoo in Japan. As a lesser-known brand focused on scalp care Clear had a big challenge if it was to grow through traditional B2C marketing. Recognizing that the existing game was stacked against them, the brand team decided to change it and sell to corporations not consumers. Its Headgear Cover Plan encouraged companies to supply Clear shampoo to those who had to wear headgear at work, like firemen, food prep and construction workers. The Headgear-Cover Plan campaign added 70,900 employees as new users, seven times the target, and e-commerce sales rose by 171 percent over the duration of the campaign compared to the previous year.

My media colleagues are always reminding me that the medium is also the message. And it is true, but when media budgets are often set well in advance of implementation it can sometimes be difficult to something different from last year. However, Jane Ostler, Global Media Domain Lead, Insights Division at Kantar, reminded me of the example of Burberry, the first luxury brand to livestream their catwalk shows, one of the first to enable shopping from Instagram and try out short form ads on Snapchat.

Then there is the example of Ariel detergent in India. How can you break out of the status quo in a highly competitive market? Find a compelling new purpose that will help the brand make a positive change in society. The campaign sought to highlight the gender inequality that meant men did not do their share of household tasks. Videos that contrasted the attitudes and behavior of men and women were augmented by creative use of messaging on packaging and wash care labels with different instructions provided for men and women. Ariel’s ‘Share the Load’ campaign encouraged 1.57 million men to pledge to share the load and Ariel grew value sales by 106 percent.

If you want to grow a brand you have to do something different from the norm, something innovative that disrupts the status quo. Can you think of any other examples of disruption, other than functional innovation, which resulted in strong growth?


Written by Nigel Hollis,Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown.

Read 630 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 February 2018 02:48
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