This is a story of an epic battle.
Three thousand years ago, in the twelfth century, in the valley of Elah, two armies were facing each other. Fledging army of Israel was pitted against the army of Philistines.
The two armies were not ready to make the first move.
To attack meant descending down the hill; this would be suicidal for both of them.
“People love to support underdogs- be it a sport or a business organisation.”
To settle the deadlock, both sides decided to send their best warrior down the valley-whoever won, the other side would become their slave.
This was the accepted practice in those days to avoid heavy bloodshed-which invariably would result from any full-scale war.
Philistines sent their best warrior, a 6 feet 11 inches giant. He had a full body armor weighing more than 100 kegs and carried a javelin, a spear and a sword. He was the most destructive and ferocious warrior you could ever imagine.
In the Israel camp, nobody moved. Who could win against this terrifying opponent?
“People jump to conclusions about bigger armies.They believe that bigger armies will always win.”
Then a shepherd boy, who had come to give food to his brother, stepped forward and volunteered to fight the giant warrior. King Saul objected- how could he allow a shepherd boy to go and fight the awesome seasoned warrior!
But the shepherd boy was adamant- said he had fought mighty lions and bears in the jungle while protecting his sheep, and he could easily win against the giant warrior.
The shepherd boy ran down the valley towards the giant warrior.
The giant warrior said “Come here boy, that I may give your flesh to birds and beasts!” He felt humiliated to see a shepherd boy challenging him instead of an experienced warrior.
“It is possible to win against heavy odds, if you don’t follow the conventional rules.”
The shepherd boy reached down and picked up five stones from the ground.
He put one stone in a leather pouch of a sling.
He rotated the sling at a great speed and fired the stone at the giant’s only exposed part –his forehead.
“People want to believe in miracles.”
The giant was stunned. He fell down.
The shepherd boy took the giant’s sword and cut his head.
Looking their warrior dead, the philistine army fled.
The shepherd boy was David and the giant’s name was Goliath. Since then
David and Goliath have become a metaphor for an improbable win.
“Since then David and Goliath have become a metaphor for an improbable win.”
The battle was won by an underdog. People jump to conclusions about bigger armies.They believe that bigger armies will always win.Napoleon had said that “God is with larger armies.”
That’s why people love to support underdogs- be it a sport or a business organisation.
A political scientist, Tvan Arrequon Toft did the calculations and found that larger armies won only 71.5 % of the time.
Just under third of the time- weaker and smaller armies prevailed
This is the key point I am trying to make.
It is possible to win against heavy odds if you don’t follow the conventional rules and are able to find the weak underbelly of your opponent.
“You can fight and win against a bigger opponent if you change the rules of engagement.”
They did not know how to fight against a simple half-clad fakir, who believed in non-violence. Who could rally millions of Indians against the powerful British army?
The rules of engagement had changed completely.
The same rule applies in business. You can fight and win against a bigger opponent if you change the rules of engagement and if you can find a weakness of the bigger opponent and exploit it.
“Slowly but surely, Netflix changed the rules.”
In 2000, ‘blockbuster’ turned down offers to buy Netflix for 50 million$. In 2004, while blockbuster was making 6 billion$ in revenue, Netflix was struggling to be in 500 million $.
Netflix changed the rules. It started offering more convenience to its customers, first with movies through mail, and then streaming services made available on numerous devices.
A decade later, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy, closing all stores in 2013. Netflix now has more than 31.1 million subscribers and is ahead of the pack by a wide margin.
“Jobs spent time on great marketing ideas, to create an element of mystique around the brand.”
Steve Jobs had a plan to create technology that would change the way the world functioned and started in his garage in 1976. Competing against Microsoft, the biggest electronics and Computer Company at that time, Steve had to go all in creating fresh and different technology to beat the top dog of the industry.
This resulted in the extinction of walkmans. Followed by the iPhone and the iPad, Apple turned heads and got recognition.
Steve Jobs understood that consumers are constantly looking for something different and eye-catching and so he gave his customers exactly what they wanted.
He created products with new technology with stunning designs.
In his words, “I want to make even computer keypads so beautiful, that that my customers would like to lick them.”
Along with his incredibly innovative ideas, he spent time on great marketing ideas, which created an element of mystique around the brand.
Today, whenever a new product is launched by Apple, it is a common sight to see people waiting for more than 12 hours to lay their hand on new product.
Today, Apple is the most valuable company on the planet. Apple products have become a cult.
“The underdog won against tremendous odds.”
The use of detergent powder was started in India by HLL’s Surf in 1959.
Starting as a one-product one-man organisation in 1969 by Karsanbhai Patel, ‘Nirma’ took on the market leader Surf by giving the good quality product at most affordable prices. The price-value equation was so effective that, by the 1970s, Nirma dominated the detergent market.
In 1990, Nirma entered the market with its Nirma Beauty soap.
By 1999, Nirma became India’s 2ndlargest manufacturer of toilet soaps by acquiring a 15% share of the toilet soap market.
Nirma’s performance was incredible as compared to Godrej, which had a share of only 8%.
By 1999-2000, Nirma had gathered a 38% share of India’s 2.4 million tonnes detergents market.
HLL’s share was 31% for the same period.
How did Nirma succeed against such strong opponent like HLL’s Surf?
It provided great cost value to Indian lower and middle-class consumers, which Surf could never do. The quality was acceptable, not great. But it added a good jingle based marketing campaign to this heady cocktail and tipping point was reached. The market leader was overthrown and Nirma became a Rs 17 billion company within thirty years.
The underdog won against tremendous odds.
“Micromax had two unique propositions –value for money price and customizing the product as per specific market.”
Global Handset Vendor Market share report said ‘Micromax ‘is the 12th largest mobile manufacturer in the world.
The company, which launched 3.5 years ago with just 10,000 phones, is now available in Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Maldives, UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan and Brazil.
Micromax entered in India when the competition was fierce. All the international brands were fighting to get some space in this large Indian market, competing against Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Sony and a dozen others. The Branding and Marketing strategy for Micromax had two unique propositions –value for money price and customizing the product as per specific market.
When it entered the Sri Lankan market, Micromax realized that for a coastal region, it couldn’t offer the same products. So, it developed a water and moisture-resistant phone.
Similarly, they figured that 3G was not available in Bangladesh despite its potential. They changed their strategy and launched with a range of 2G phones.
Later, it introduced smart phones and tablets, too. Miramax’s Fun book Pro, the 7-inch, budget android tablet (Rs 7,249) was created after tweaking blueprints of nine tablets in the market.
According to India Quarterly Media Tablet Market Review, Micromax is the market leader in tablets followed by Samsung and Apple, respectively.
Shaving cream Vi-John
“Vi-John, a shaving cream, has a very low awareness as compared to the foreign brand Gillette does, but it sells twice more than Gillette.”” via=”
It is endorsed by Shahrukh Khan and is a hot favourite in small towns and cities. I understood the power of this brand when my father refused to use any other brand but Vi-John, when he came to visit us.
Vi-John is an INR 500 crore company who is also into other areas such as real estate and liquor, apart from Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).
Its rampant success in the male grooming sector has motivated them to take on the rival foreign companies.
Vi-John created a new segment in non-metros and smaller towns. It did not confront the market leader ‘Gillette’ directly but started chipping at the market leader in non-urban towns.
This was typical ‘outside-inside’ strategy. The product has started entering urban centres after consolidating its base in the non-urban segment.
Waghbakri tea is a market leader in Gujarat. Waghbakri operates on a simple strategy– understand the locals like and offer exactly that. They test about 500 samples in a day to conjure the right brew and blend for a particular region. For example; in south Gujarat people use creamy milk, so Waghbakri has a brew that blends well with milk, and still manages to sport a delicious flavour.
This brand wants to reach new heights and go national.
They have extended their presence in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Delhi, Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is all set to take on its MNC rival – Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Tata brands.
It has started Tea outlets, where people can come for snacks and taste their range of products.
The bottom line: It is possible to win against superior opponent.
You have more than 50 % chances of beating a stronger and bigger enemy.
You can change the rules of engagement. (Mahatma Gandhi, Netflix)
You can provide a better price-value equation. (Nirma, Micromax)
Your product design can change the consumer perception (apple)
You can customise your product as per the geography or cultural difference (Wagbakri Tea, Micromax)
New technology and speed will make a difference. (Flipkart, Snapdeal and all new age companies)
David can always beat Goliath.