Blue Ocean Strategy - Lost at Sea

Since 2005, the "Blue Ocean" strategy has been held in high regard by market researchers and company innovators. Unfortunately for them, Blue Ocean is a largely bogus strategy. The premise of the "Blue Ocean" strategy is that companies/organizations should create their own markets, therefore making the competition irrelevant.

Dr. Kim and Dr. Mauborgne developed their "Blue Ocean" approach by studying 150 strategic moves in roughly thirty industries. The most notable examples in their book is Cirque du Soleil and Yellowtail wine. Kim and Mauborgne claim that Cirque du Soleil and Yellowtail each created a new market and made the competition irrelevant. Guess what?! THEY DIDN'T! The added benefit of attending a Cirque du Soleil performance over a Broadway or Las Vegas show is virtually non-existent. The end customers are still the same motivated purchasers. Yellowtail is an even better example. Yellowtail is a type of wine that is "easy drinking." The customer group remains wine drinkers; therefore, Yellowtail did not create a new customer base, it simply added a new product to an existing customer category. In essence, Blue Ocean is an extended definition of the First Mover advantage. Competition will always follow success, and as is often the case, the First Mover will eventually fail. Oh, and one other thing…creating a new market (i.e., Blue Ocean) is E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E. So, how should you be successfully innovative? Make and provide products that people want. After all, most oceans I've seen are blue anyway.