Book Reviews

[Review] Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Review Blue Ocean Strategy

In the context of severe competition today, businesses are struggling to create strong brand positioning in the marketplace. Therefore, it is sometimes not effective for managers to spend a large amount of money on marketing, product differentiation, or technological advancement. From the beginning, this book brings up two different terms: “red oceans”, which is our marketplace today where businesses attempt to outperform their rivals, and “blue oceans”, which is creating untapped market spaces by capturing new demand and making competition irrelevant. Chapter to chapter, this book discusses how to formulate and execute blue ocean strategies in order to generate growth and profit.

“Blue Ocean Strategy” begins with an interesting example of Cirque du Soleil, the largest theatrical producer in the world. Unlike traditional circuits, this company targets at adult theater customers by offering intellectual richness and artistic music and dance (which reminds a little bit of Lune Production in Vietnam with their inspiring A O Show and Lang Toi, aiming at promoting Vietnamese culture by working with elite local artists). From this example, the authors highlight the importance of “value innovation”, which is not only focused on technological advancement but also creating unique value for your products and services and making competition irrelevant.

However, you cannot simply create a new product for a blue ocean strategy; there are trade-offs which businesses have to consider. Instead of a conventional choice between cost leadership and differentiation, the book suggests the “Four Actions Framework” and prompts businesses to eliminate, raise, reduce and create factors, generating an uncontested market and unleashing new demand. Through several examples of various industries from air transportation, food & beverages to entertainment, business people can learn a valuable lesson: If you want to be successful in marketplace, you must do things that your competition does not! You have to trade off some factors to create a niche market where customers cannot find other substitutes.

Once a blue ocean strategy is formed, it is crucial to develop an execution plan. This book suggests a step-to-step guide towards formulating a successful strategy, from market research of competitors, product development, customer insights, marketing to human resources and internal communication. Much like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have done to gain as much market share as possible and create tough market boundaries for other companies to enter. Thank to the book’s insightful content, even inexperienced businesses can apply these theories into their business model to develop a more thorough solution to clients’ needs, and build trust with employees, customers, and partners. 

In conclusion, this is a classic read and everyone can understand theories and examples in this book without any business background. You can apply many things from this book into real life by breaking unconventional thoughts, unleashing your potentials and becoming successful in life.

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