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Chapter 8: Principles of Offensive WarfareOf those companies that were 5 years old or younger, 40 percent increased market share. Of those companies that were 20 years old or older, only 17 percent increased market share.
Clearly offensive warfare is a game for only the most determined and skillful marketing people. But you can greatly increase your chances of success by careful analysis of the leader's strength.
The weakness in strength
There's weakness in strength, if you can find it. Achilles had a heel which led to his downfall.
As a company increases its share of the market beyond a certain point, it becomes weaker, not stronger. These 60, 70, 80 percent market share brands look exceedingly strong; yet they are sometimes vulnerable . . . if you can find the weakness inherent in their strength.
Take amateur color photographic film. This is a billion dollar market in America and Kodak has an 85 percent market share. (Kodak's pretax profit margins are reported to be upward of 50 percent.)
Clearly this is a yellow monster with considerable clout. To attack such a beast successfully takes a wellthought-out strategy.
Forget price. With its high profit margins, Kodak could cut its prices in half and still make money. Furthermore, the film price is the smaller half of the package. Most amateur photographers use color print film which must be developed and printed, a process which costs more than the film itself.
Forget quality. Most photographers couldn't tell the difference. Even if it were possible to produce a color film with a demonstrable difference in quality, the world's largest maker of color film (Kodak) could beexpected to match it in short order.
Forget finding a weakness that's just a weakness. Turn the problem around and look at Kodak's strengths. Where is Kodak strong in photographic film?
The answer is everywhere. The ubiquitousness of that little yellow box is one of Kodak's major strengths.
No matter where you are, you can count on being able to pick up a box of Kodak film. At almost every supermarket, drugstore, newspaper stand, or candy store in the country. There are almost 200,000 Kodak film outlets in America alone. And the instruction sheet is printed in eight languages.
Universal availability is an enormous benefit to the film user. No matter where you are in the world, you can always buy a box of Kodak film. Since film users like to standardize on one brand, Kodak is the obvious choice.
Where is the weakness inherent in that strength? If you look at the box, you'll see a "process before" date. Kodak makes photographic film like Brie makes cheese and Chiquita makes bananas. Kodak makes it "green" and it ripens on the shelf. If the film gets overripe, the prints are off-color, often pinkish, and always a big disappointment.
Kodak pays for its ubiquitousness by having to put up with the aging process that takes place at room temperature.
Like bananas, color film can be manufactured "ripe." But unlike bananas, color film will stay that way if kept refrigerated. (Which is why Kodak professional film is manufactured ripe and kept refrigerated until it's sold.)
So our offensive strategy for a Kodak competitor is to launch the world's first refrigerated color film for the amateur market. Then give it a name like "Trucolor" to communicate the idea that the film hasn't deteriorated on the shelf before you bought it.
Of course, you couldn't sell Trucolor film in most of Kodak's 200,000 outlets because many of them don't have refrigeration equipment. That's all right. Kodak has those outlets locked up anyway. They don't need another brand.
Where you could sell Trucolor film is in the freezer section of the supermarket. Sell it in six-packs and tell the customer to keep the film in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Who knows, someday there might be a film container in your Frigidaire in addition to the butter container.
But first someone must see the potential of the Trucolor concept which has already been turned down cold by 3M, America's second largest film manufacturer. A distant second, to be sure.
The same kind of thinking can be used against any big, ubiquitous brand. How would you go against Campbell's soup, for example? Forget taste, forget price. As a matter of fact, forget everything that's inside the can and concentrate on the can itself. That's where Campbell is vulnerable...