Category disruption occurs when a company or brand attempts to reposition an existing category or subcategory in their favor, often by introducing new products or services that are similar to those offered by an established category leader. Here are some examples of how our world is re-created using category design ingenuity:
Some of these were effective, some were not. Imagine the billions of dollars spent striving to be number one in the minds of consumers in these different industries.
- Pepsi’s “Pepsi Challenge” campaign in the 1970s, which aimed to steal market share from Coca-Cola by positioning Pepsi as a tastier alternative.
- Southwest Airlines’ entry into the airline industry in the 1970s, which disrupted the traditional airline category by offering low-cost, no-frills service.
- Google’s introduction of the Android mobile operating system in 2008, which aimed to compete with Apple’s iOS and establish a new category of smartphones.
- Netflix’s shift from DVD rentals to online streaming, which disrupted the video rental category and eventually led to the decline of brick-and-mortar video rental stores.
- Tesla’s entry into the automotive industry, which disrupted the traditional category of gasoline-powered cars by introducing electric vehicles with advanced technology features.
- Amazon’s introduction of the Kindle e-reader, which disrupted the traditional publishing industry and established a new category of digital books.
- Uber’s entry into the transportation industry, which disrupted the traditional taxi category by offering on-demand ride-hailing services through a mobile app.
- Airbnb’s entry into the hospitality industry, which disrupted the traditional hotel category by offering alternative accommodations through a peer-to-peer platform.
- Dollar Shave Club’s entry into the men’s grooming industry, which disrupted the traditional category of razors and shaving products by offering subscription-based services at a lower cost.
- Warby Parker’s entry into the eyewear industry, which disrupted the traditional category of high-priced designer glasses by offering affordable, stylish frames through a direct-to-consumer model.
Spending money may or may not win the hearts and minds of consumers; in fact, in most cases advertising dollars that are spent only have a less than 25% market saturation absorption. You simply can’t remove the crown of the already existing category king (or queen).
Happy Category Designing!