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The Product team’s guide to market
and competitive intelligence.

5. Create and discover your own space in the market

Get your own ocean

How that you know the basics of competitive and market intelligence, let’s talk about finding a space in the market and analyzing the information. There are many schools of thought around how to isolate gaps in the market, and the most productive of them is “Blue Ocean Strategy.”

What is Blue Ocean strategy?

If you are not familiar with the term “Blue Ocean Strategy,” Blue ocean strategy is the “simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand.”

There are two excellent books and many videos that dive into a lot of the business strategy behind this, but we are going to focus on the tactical. How to use the learning and research to find a market niche for your product. 

Blue Ocean vs Red Ocean

The “Red Ocean” is often described as a market space in which several companies have already explored and are competing heavily in (like product road mapping software).

  • Competing in existing market space
  • Going head-to-head with competitors
  •  All are exploiting the same well-known demands.
The “Blue Ocean” is focused on creating an uncontested space, and side-stepping head-to-head competition.
  • Carving an uncontested segment of the market or creating a tangent market
  • Side-stepping competitors
  • Creating or capturing lesser-known demands.
The “Blue Ocean strategy” assumes business flexibility and product-market fit does not exist, so as good product teams, we are going to go a bit farther.

Strategize where there is oppurtunity to create new value

The way to succeed is to come up (innovate) with new value. This is a cornerstone in every product management and product marketing course, and something that we will define in the following sections.

The first step is to map on a strategy canvas the critical focus areas of the market and your place in them. If you have read Chapter 3 (on evaluating yourself) and Chapter 4 (on mapping the market players), you should be able to put a value canvas together with ease. 

Here we have Netflix vs. Cable TV mapped. As you can see, there is a clear differentiation between the two. CableTV has a very crowded red ocean, but Netflix has been able to create a new market place for itself. While this is what Netflix did to create a “Blue Ocean” years ago, you may find the streaming marketplace with YouTube, Disney+, Hulu, Prime, etc. is now a very Red ocean. This also created a new demand. The rise of streaming, mobile gaming, and other factors have created a demand for game platforms to offer the same value. Platforms like Stadia, Xbox xCloud, and Playstation Now are now working to answer this new demand.

Once you have done the above, you should have a clear view of your differentiation, and now determine if that differentiation is enough to create enough value in your market. With the work you have done in the previous chapters, you should have plenty of columns. If you do not have enough differentiation, let’s create some new value.

Explore where new value can arise

To create new value in your strategy graph, you need to determine what can be Eliminated, Created, Reduced, or Raised.

  • Reduce: What factors should be reduced below market standard?
  • Eliminate: What factors (that are taken for granted), that can be eliminated?
  • Create: What new factors should be created in the industry?
  • Raise: Which should be raised above the existing standard?

Let’s think about product management tools, specifically ProductBoard, which is one of the fastest moving and most agile product management platforms in the market.

Many product tools are built around development processes, by eliminating built-in processes and reducing the level of integration, they could simplify the app, and allow it to adapt to non-development releases.

ProductBoard created an extremely active product community where users are exchanging tips, tricks, and best practices. This community is of value to many product managers and marketers. The team also saw that insight gathering and mapping were often in separate software. This was an opportunity to raise the industry standard.

In short, ProductBoard created new value by being more adaptable than the industry standard, requiring product teams to have fewer other tools, and removing complexity from the app. Together with an active and interactive community, ProductBoard built a new level of value in their market.

Adapt your strategy canvas with the new value oppurtunities

You can now go back to your strategy canvas with the new opportunities of value, and map your potential future on the canvas. Is there a differentiated value? If so, you can now move into Chapter 6 (Applying it to your product) and Chapter 7 (Sharing it with your company).

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