When used together, the words “creativity” and “disruption” are strong growth drivers for challenger brands. The combination serves as a unique advantage that helps propel these companies beyond expectations. They have also proven themselves adept at incorporating the latest technology into their brand strategies, allowing them to add power to their ability to interrupt the status quo in their respective industries.
Furthermore, the power of creativity plus disruption is quantifiable, with researchers revealing that – when paired with great advertising – brands were able to boost their value by over 260%. That’s significantly higher than those that are perceived as only creative.
Characteristics of Challenger Brands
According to the Challenger Project, these brands are laser-focused on doing something bold that defies traditional conventions. They are redefining what it means to think outside the box, while often having only a fraction of the resources available to a larger company. These ambitious companies are looking for space where they can truly differentiate themselves from the crowd.
This could be accomplished by going against the norm in their particular industry, influencing the way other brands communicate with shoppers through social media or forging a new distribution channel for their products. What these brands do have in common is a willingness to defy universal or long-established practices for the sake of causing a stir – and making sales.
What is Creative Disruption?
The term “creative disruption” was introduced in 1992 by Jean-Marie Dru, the author and chairman of TBWA advertising agency. It was used to describe the way highly creative messages tend to cause a break in an audience’s existing behavior patterns. Today’s shoppers are constantly tuned in to their mobile devices, idly browsing online content or scrolling through social media feeds. To successfully capture their attention and stand out from others, brands must spark a creative disruption. In other words, they should attempt the unexpected and look for ways to evoke an emotional reaction to their messaging.
The key factor of success, however, is shopper perception. It’s not enough to be disruptively creative. Shoppers must perceive that your brand is both creative and disruptive – or “shaking things up” – in order to grow brand value. That requires delivering highly effective marketing messages, taking risks and fostering a memorable brand experience at every touchpoint.
4 Strategies to Embrace Creative Disruption
There is no single formula that you can use that guarantees you will achieve creative disruption in your industry. But there are some strategies that will help you define where it may add value for your brand. Over time, companies can become nearly indistinguishable as they apply the same best practices that have worked for their competitors. This presents a huge opportunity for emerging upstarts to venture down an unbeaten path and introduce new and innovative marketing techniques to attract more shoppers. These four strategies will help you embrace this mindset and leverage the principles for your brand.
1. Take a Stand for Social Change
One way that challengers are able to get their name out there without a large marketing budget is through standing for social change – which can attract a significant amount of earned media coverage. This strategy also allows them to differentiate themselves from competitors in a way that draws in shoppers, as two-thirds of them (66%) say it’s important for companies to take a public stand on social or political issues.
Ben & Jerry’s, for example, has a long history of supporting important causes, specifically those directly related to the farming and dairy industries. From opposing Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone use in cows to creating the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to spur community involvement among employees, the company is committed to making socially responsible decisions. Though a more established brand, it’s a noteworthy example that challengers can follow to see similar success.
2. Deliver a Great Brand Experience
Embracing creativity and disruption doesn’t mean you should detract from providing a great experience, a lesson that challenger Warby Parker learned early on. Their home trial kit has upended the world of traditional eyeglasses by creating a model that is extremely appealing to shoppers. It allows them to try on up to 5 different pairs of eyeglasses right in their home to accelerate their decision-making process.
The company’s intermediate price point shows that people are willing to pay more for a positive brand experience. In fact, 73% of shoppers say that a good experience is key in influencing their loyalties to certain companies. To see growth, it’s essential to infuse creativity or be disruptive in the way that shoppers traditionally interact with products in their respective category.
3. Invest in Hyper-Personalization
Shoppers often have a complex and non-linear path to purchase, making it more difficult now than ever to meet their needs along the buyer journey. To improve in this areas, it’s important to have a deep knowledge of shopper data, allowing marketers to hyper-personalize offerings based on their habits and expectations.
When brands show an interest and understanding of the needs and wants of their audience, they are not only able to connect more effectively, but they are also able to sell more products and services, too. According to a new marketing concept titled Wantedness, 56% of shoppers feel more loyal to brands that show a deep understanding of their priorities and preferences. To be effective, they must find creative ways to demonstrate that they understand what shoppers need and want at every point in the buyer journey.
4. Take Risks and Be Innovative
Introducing new ideas in a long-established market can be an intimidating proposition, but challengers can’t be afraid to blaze their own trail when launching new products. Nearly 90% of shoppers expect their favorite companies to push boundaries – providing an interesting, out-of-the-box experience that will surprise and delight them.
Being innovative, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to reinvent a product segment. This can be achieved simply through key business functions. Take skincare and beauty brand Glossier, for instance. It takes a customer-centric approach to everything from product development to marketing – allowing shoppers to weigh in on beauty products through feedback on social media and the company blog, as well as through curated discussions about their beauty needs.
Challenger brands are successful because they are willing to be both creative and disruptive, taking risks that might be difficult for their more traditional counterparts to justify. Shoppers respond positively to these strategies, causing them to engage more tightly with the brand, and thereby, increasing overall value and loyalty. To experience growth, they must diverge from traditional methods and embrace innovative tactics that lead to growth and prominence across their category.