Evolution and Marketing

There is a great post on Seth Godin’s blog about evolution and marketing that struck a chord with me, given my personal background in the biosciences:

    “Marine iguanas swim. IguanasThey eat stuff in shallow water, which is surprising behavior for an iguana. How is it possible for there to be marine iguanas?Ordinary iguanas washed onshore of some of the Galapagos Islands a few millenia ago and quickly discovered that eating the way they were used to wasn’t going to work, because there wasn’t anything to eat. Most of them starved to death. A few, though, were lucky enough that they could tolerate foraging around on the edge of the ocean. Over generations, iguanas with this trait thrived, while those that were born without it died out. A new species evolved.The interesting lesson for marketers is this: if iguanas had had predators and competition while this was going on, they never would have survived. The barren nature of their marketplace gave them the time they needed to evolve (or as marketers with egos would say, “figure out”) a strategy that worked.Too often, marketers are drawn to the hot market. The problem with the hot market is that if you don’t get it right quickly, you get crushed. Really big ideas tend to get perfected in the Siberian outposts, the little niches that get ignored (until they get really big). It takes a lot of confidence to walk into a hyper-competitive market with something new. Quieter markets may just give you the cover you need to work out what it’s going to take to make those marketers grow.”

I think the principle notion is clear: when you move into a competitive environment, also known as ‘red oceans’, you have to fight for survival. It is probably preferable to move into a ‘blue ocean’, with little or no competition. In an ideal world, this ‘blue ocean’ grows rapidly over time, resulting in good company growth. This concept of red vs. blue oceans was developed by two INSEAD professors who have written a very interesting book about it, Blue Ocean Strategy, that I can recommend.


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3 thoughts on “Evolution and Marketing

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