JOURNAL ARTICLE | Australian Financial Review | | January 2005
Colour Me Blue
One-time accordion player, stilt walker and fire-eater, Guy Laliberte is now CEO of one of Canada’s largest cultural exports, Cirque du Soleil. In 20 years, it has achieved revenues that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey - the world’s leading circus - took more than a century to attain. How did Cirque profitably increase revenues by a factor of 22 over the past 10 years? The tagline for one of the first Cirque productions is revealing: “We reinvent the circus.” Cirque did not make its money by competing within the confines of the existing industry, or by stealing customers from Ringling and the others. Instead, it created uncontested market space that made the competition irrelevant. To understand the nature of Cirque’s achievement you have to realize that the business universe consists of two distinct kinds of space, which the authors think of as red and blue oceans. Red oceans represent all the industries in existence today - the known market space. Blue oceans denote all the industries not in existence today - the unknown market space, untainted by competition.