The antithesis of Blue Ocean market spaces are Red Oceans. Red Ocean environments represent the existing boundaries of conventional wisdom.
Their familiarity provides a false sense of comfort to companies, because Red Oceans are crowded, confining, and make companies focus on outdueling one another rather than delivering lifestyle enrichment to consumers. The resulting strategic emphasis is insular and resource intensive, limits growth, and runs the real danger of rendering companies or entire industries irrelevant.
Consider for a moment the pervasive Red Ocean mentality that has materialized in the realm of men’s razors — a situation so transparently absurd that it has become the butt of satirical comedy. Here is the short of it: leading razor manufacturers such as Gillette and Schick (who together dominate 80 percent of the U.S. market for razors and blades) attempt to outduel each other by periodically introducing “new and improved” razors. Each new series is touted to offer a much improved shaving experience, but in reality what consumers see is the continuous, incremental increase in the number of blades and the accompanying higher price point. This is leading to a mounting consumer backlash and jettisoning in favor of disposable razors, as well as some humorous chiding.
And according to this update via BusinessWeek the state of the industry doesn’t seem to be getting any better either:
For years the men’s razor has been the object of a supercharged R&D arms race, as manufacturers kept piling on the number of blades and adding such questionable gimmicks as vibrators. But recent news suggests that the expensive razor is beginning to look more like a humble commodity.
More of this kind of thinking in my book Slingshot: Re-Imagine Your Business, Re-Imagine Your Life.
[Image via scform.]