3 Disruptive Marketing Examples and Why They Work

by | Dec 14, 2019 | Content Marketing

3 Disruptive Marketing Examples and Why They Work

by | Dec 14, 2019 | Content Marketing

You’re probably familiar with the term “Disruptive Innovation.” If not, here’s a quick disruptive innovation definition: In short, this phrase refers to the practice of newcomer businesses examining an established industry to find the customers that are being neglected by businesses because they are less profitable than other groups. The newcomers then meet the needs of these neglected customers and steal them away from established businesses by offering the products or services in question, often for less money.

A classic example of disruptive innovation is the rise of Netflix and how they challenge the livelihood of video rental stores and cable TV. You can probably think of numerous other examples. Similar to the way disruptive innovation turns existing business models on their heads, disruptive marketing looks at the practices and techniques that everyone is using, the platforms they’re on, the things they’re saying, and does the opposite. Disruptive marketing always seeks out the new, cutting-edge way of doing something, taking advantage of new social platforms, and new technologies. Beyond that, disruptive marketing seeks to break through the noise of modern marketing and truly hit home with customers.

Learn three current examples of disruptive marketing, why they’re so successful, then apply them to your business.

 

Take a Stand

Black Friday is an American tradition, and there probably aren’t many people you know that don’t participate in this post-Thanksgiving shopping event. In 2016, over 100 million people shopped on Black Friday. For some context, that’s nearly three times as many people as the population of California.

Million Shoppers

So why on earth would a national brand urge customers to say no to the yearly shopping tradition? To find the answer, dig deeper into the #OptOutside campaign from REI. In 2015, REI urged customers to go enjoy outdoor activities instead of participating in Black Friday. The campaign included an intro video and a website where people could (and still can) post pictures of their outdoor adventures. With the website and the tradition of skipping Black Friday still going three years later, this is still a very relevant example of disruptive marketing.

Why It Works

Though it might seem the exact opposite, REI’s campaign was smart from a sales perspective. By encouraging people to forgo Black Friday, though people won’t be shopping at REI’s stores, they, in theory also wouldn’t be shopping at their competitor’s stores. Also, by urging customers to #OptOutside, not just on Black Friday but year-round, REI creates more demand for their products. Beyond these reasons, REI also accomplished something very indicative of disruptive campaigns by connecting with their customers, utilizing user-generated content, and taking a stand against an established tradition.

Change the Conversation

Even more well-attended than Black Friday is the Superbowl. Each year, millions of people tune into this sporting event, and each year, millions of dollars are spent on TV advertisements that air during the game. Ad costs can be higher than $5 million for a 30-second spot, yet big-name companies such as Pepsi and Budweiser, continue to pay for these ads.

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo decided to take a different approach to Super Bowl advertising and offered an excellent example of disruptive marketing at the same time. During the Superbowl in 2015, Volvo told customers to tweet at them with the hashtag #VolvoContest whenever they saw a commercial for another car company and also make a nomination for one of their loved ones to win a Volvo automobile. Volvo called the campaign “The Greatest Interception Ever,” which speaks to the way they managed to shift the conversation away from their competitors.

According to a video recapping the campaign and its results, Volvo sustained engagement throughout the Super Bowl on Twitter. Even more importantly, Volvo sales of the XC60 model increased by 70% in the month after the Super Bowl.

Why It Works

This campaign was disruptive and successful on multiple levels. In one sense, Volvo saw what other car companies were doing (spending millions on Super Bowl advertising) and did something completely different. This alone makes their interception campaign disruptive. Additionally, they changed the conversation to one of emotional connection by putting the spotlight on Super Bowl viewers and the people most important to them.

Harness Cutting Edge Technology

Disruptive marketing doesn’t have to use innovative technology, but it often does. When a company takes advantage of a new, exciting technology before their competitors they have a chance to position themselves as an industry-leading brand. L’Oreal, a leader in digitally competent hair care brands, has a great recent example of doing this.

In January of 2018, L’Oreal released an updated app that uses artificial intelligence to show users how they would look in different L’Oreal hair colors. Using an app by itself isn’t necessarily disruptive, as multiple companies, from Suntrust to Great Clips, have their own mobile apps. But creating a game-like app that puts the power of artificial intelligence at your customers’ fingertips is.

Why It Works

With one app, L’Oreal is able to provide a personalized beauty experience to millions of customers. Not only that, but launching an augmented reality app uses cutting-edge technology and takes into account the importance of mobile, which is one of the 10 disruptive marketing trends identified in Geoffrey Colon’s book, “Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us About Navigating the New Normal.”

In a marketing landscape where customers are bombarded with the same or similar marketing tactics and messages over and over, disruptive marketing just might be one of your best chances to really reach your customers and make a lasting impression on them. These examples may be from large and well-known brands, but they can still be applied to just about any company.
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