The aim for many small businesses is to grow, so it is only natural to feel jealousy towards big- spending competitors who seem to have the market sewn up.

Seem is the important word here, because as the mobile phone market has shown recently, being number one doesn’t mean you’re going to stay that way forever.

Changes at the top in the mobile phone industry

Everyone remembers the Nokia phones that dominated the consumer market and similarly BlackBerry’s dominance of the business market. Both firms are now in trouble, partly through their own inability to respond to changes in consumer habits, but mostly down to the innovation shown by competing brands who forced consumers to change and aspire for more. The death of Steve Jobs and the somewhat underwhelming response to Apple’s latest products suggest it might not be the dominant force in a couple of years time.

The point is that all of these brands were innovative challengers at one point in a highly competitive space, using technology to shake up the market.

Gaining market share

Of course, there are other ways to gain market share; doing things cheaper has worked historically. Doing things more expensively is working now as the luxury market takes hold, particularly in Asia.

In a strategic sense, being a challenger is a mindset challenge for an organisation. It has to believe it is going to dent the market and find ways to do so, which don’t rely on enormous budgets.

If you’ve got new technology for example, you need to find a marketing strategy that maximises the value of the technology to customers. Will it change the way people behave? If so, why do they need it and how has it changed the way existing customers operate?


Loyalty is another trend that companies are looking to tap into in order to gain market share. This has spilled over into social media as brands try to build communities. It can be quite a crude measurement, but the traffic statistics for Facebook and Twitter are startling and a savvy consumer business that rewards fans can count on their repeat business. At a more tactical level, video proves highly effective and appeals to the YouTube generation.

Build your own market

It is also possible to create a new market. Red Bullis an example of a company creating a new space, initially in energy drinks, but also leveraging the brand through strategic marketing to become associated with daring and adrenalin through its F1 team, stunts like Felix Baumgartner’s space jump and the Red Bull Flying Race. It is now indisputably top of the energy drinks market with an army of loyal fans in unconnected markets.

Lucozade’s successful response to competition

It has forced Lucozade to become increasingly scientific in its marketing – you couldn’t imagine a Vodka Lucozade in a bar, but somehow Red Bull works despite tasting remarkably similar. Fortunately for Lucozade it has responded well and created a new demand among amateur athletes for its products, rather than compete with Red Bull.

If you’re looking to make a splash in a new or existing market, why not talk to Whitecap about our business consultancy services. With many years of experience at established and challenger brands, we’re ideally placed to provide you with the commercial clarity that will help you make the right strategic decisions at the right time.

Check out our case studies for some examples of previous projects, and why not complete our free online strategy survey and see how your business is shaping up.