CMO Impact
Leading a Culture of Innovation as a Growth CMO

Disrupt or Be Disrupted: How Brands Can Innovate for the Future

Lee Hsieh
November 03, 2016

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In the world of business, we’re entering into a new era where it’s no longer enough to innovate and create, but also imperative to disrupt. In 2015, Forbes announced that “disruption is the new normal.” And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down now.

Even if you haven’t heard of the term before, you’ve probably experienced it – catching a ride through Uber, booking a place to stay through Airbnb, or watching a movie on Netflix. All of these companies aren’t just innovators and creators, but disruptors within their respective industries.

The term “disruptive innovation” was originally coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. He described it as “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

The examples I mentioned above are disruptors because of the impact they’re having against their old-guard competitors. Uber has begun to displace the long-standing taxi services, Airbnb is taking more and more dollars from established hotels, and Netflix originally started as a competitor for the now-defunct Blockbuster (but is currently taking the entire cable industry head on).

We’re seeing this more and more, especially with the rise of e-commerce and prevalence of mobile devices. Brands like Casper and Birchbox aren’t just taking typical in-store purchases online, but actually changing the way we shop for consumer packaged goods. Amazon alone has tested a number of new models to do this through their Amazon Pantry, Prime Now, and Dash Button programs.

Many industries – including construction, agronomy, robotics, and real estate – can benefit from and are actually ripe for changes. In fact, it’s possible for any company to adopt a disruptive innovation strategy to not only reach new consumers, but also possibly shake up their own industry.

One of the main tenets of this idea, though, is that it’s not enough for companies to just innovate and create new products. They must fundamentally change the way consumers use certain services or view different products. With more and more competition, companies who hope to be the real disruptors in the future must also focus on sustainability in order to survive and thrive.

To help CMOs learn more about how they can leverage disruptive innovation in their own brands, we’ve published “The Benefits of Disruptive Innovation and Marketing,” a special CMO Club Report.

In it, we discuss the rise of disruptive innovation, take a closer look at three companies that have successfully adopted the principles to change their industry, the benefits of doing so, and what’s to come for the disruptive marketers of the future.

Download the full report, here.

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