Journal Article | Harvard Business Review | 77 | January 1999
Creating New Market Space
Most companies focus on matching and beating their rivals. As a result, their strategies tend to take on similar dimensions. What ensues is head-to-head competition based largely on incremental improvements in cost, quality, or both. The authors have studied how innovative companies break free from the competitive pack by staking out fundamentally new market space--that is, by creating products or services for which there are no direct competitors. This path to value innovation requires a different competitive mind-set and a systematic way of looking for opportunities. Instead of looking within the conventional boundaries that define how an industry competes, managers can look methodically across them. By doing so, they can find unoccupied territory that represents real value innovation. Rather than looking at competitors within their own industry, for example, managers can ask why customers make trade-offs between substitute products or services. Home Depot, for example, looked across the substitutes serving home improvement needs. Intuit looked across the substitutes available to individuals managing their personal finances. In both cases, powerful insights were derived from looking at familiar data from a new perspective. Similar insights can be gleaned by looking across strategic groups within an industry; across buyer groups; across complementary product and service offerings; across the functional-emotional orientation of an industry; and even across time. To help readers explore new market space systematically, the authors developed a tool, the value curve that can be used to represent visually a range of value propositions.