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  • Writer's pictureMichael McClanahan

Differentiating Your Company in a Disruptive Marketplace

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Those prophetic words from Alvin Toffler symbolize the importance of adapting and embracing change continuously. Business leaders must recognize that traditional rules and business strategies have negligible impact in today's marketplace, and technological innovation drives the consumer marketplace. Differentiation in a disruptive market must overcome these obstacles and create a sustainable competitive advantage. Although no playbook or platform can predict the future and success of the business, there are specific strategies a company can implement to overcome stagnation in the marketplace.


Customer experience and perception represent the most fundamental means to stay in touch and provide a lasting impression for the business. However, customer experience has evolved from simply meeting a specific need to empathetically serving the need. Also, the role of social media has evolved to a point where individuals dissect the quality of goods and services provided by a given company. Short videos, posting reviews on popular search engines, and attempting to become a social influencer profoundly affect the likelihood of a business falling into favor with the consumer. Discounts and sales are not enough; consumers are willing to pay more for the guaranteed quality and service they receive in their transactions. The traditional brick-and-mortar sales tactics of saving 30% and coupons now are provocative social personalities sharing their opinions regarding goods and services on the digital platform and advocating the usage of the good or service.


Agility, adaptability, and identity enable the disruptive marketplace. What matters today must be exploited, and strategies built around it must evolve with the uncertainty of the future. The consumer today is not the same as tomorrow, so a fluid strategy to develop and morph to the ever-changing tastes and preferences of the consumer is crucial. Avoiding polarizing advertising campaigns and remaining in touch with inclusivity for all will prevent being called out by the cancel culture campaign or forces meant to wreak havoc on the status quo. Adapting and shining a light on how the company contributes to the community will help gain momentum, strengthen the brand, and share the value and mission that sets the business apart from its competitors and creates a lasting impression.


Shaping decisions from data and analytics helps the company leverage customer behavior patterns and trends in the market and counteract competitor activities. Data-driven decision-making sets the course for examining the challenge objectively. Technology today, such as artificial intelligence, can also probe disparate information, provide significant insights, and enable strategic business planners to examine large amounts of information that identify trends and patterns that would have been impossible to find just a few years ago.


Collaboration and partnerships tap into new markets and leverage each other's strengths. Sharing resources and leveraging complementary competitive advantage with a partner can help strengthen the brand's commitment to achieving the consumer's desires uniquely and innovatively. Creativity and a willingness to embrace change in an unconventional and disruptive manner can also solidify a partnership that aligns with the consumer's ever-changing expectations.


The secret to any organization succeeding in the future is to seamlessly let go of the past, adapt to change, and appeal to the digital forces before finding out after the fact. Relearning and embracing new challenges must be a part of the company's values. Experimentation, innovation, and enabling inclusivity in the company's overall strategic business decision-making are crucial foundational elements for competitive advantage as the company embraces an uncertain future in the consumer marketplace.

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