Business Book Smarts

Blue Ocean Strategy Book Review: Reinventing Your Business Strategy

November 23, 2023 | by


If you’re a business owner or a manager, you know the importance of having a solid strategy for your company. But what if you could not only create a strategy but also change the game entirely by creating new market demand? This is the concept behind the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, which we will be reviewing in this article.

Through real-life case studies and practical frameworks, the authors demonstrate how businesses can shift their focus from competing in existing markets (red oceans) to exploring untapped market spaces (blue oceans) through value innovation. This book provides valuable insights on how to reinvent your business strategy and create new market demand.

Key Takeaways:

  • Blue Ocean Strategy is about creating new market demand through value innovation.
  • Red ocean strategies focus on competing in existing markets, while blue ocean strategies explore untapped market spaces.
  • The strategic canvas and six paths framework can help identify blue ocean opportunities.
  • The four actions framework can guide businesses in creating products or services with exceptional value for customers.
  • Engaging non-customers can expand a company’s market by targeting non-traditional customer segments.

Understanding Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy is a revolutionary approach to business strategy that emphasizes value innovation rather than competition. It is based on the idea that there are untapped market spaces, or “blue oceans,” where businesses can create new demand and achieve long-term success. This strategy stands in contrast to the traditional “red ocean” approach, where businesses compete in existing market spaces, striving for a bigger share of the market.

Value innovation is the cornerstone of the Blue Ocean Strategy. It involves creating new products or services that offer exceptional value to customers, while simultaneously reducing costs and increasing efficiency. By doing so, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competition and carve out a new market space.

The Blue Ocean Strategy also emphasizes the importance of understanding and exploring untapped market spaces. These spaces may be overlooked by traditional market analysis, but can offer significant opportunities for innovation and growth. By identifying these market spaces and creating products or services that meet unmet needs, businesses can create new demand and establish a unique position in the market.

“Rather than competing within the confines of the existing industry or trying to steal customers from rivals, blue ocean strategy is about creating new demand in an uncontested market space.”

The strategic canvas is a key tool used in the Blue Ocean Strategy. This framework helps businesses identify the factors that are most important to customers and that drive the industry’s pricing and competition. By analyzing these factors and making strategic decisions based on them, businesses can create a new market space and differentiate themselves from their competition.

The six paths framework is another tool used in the Blue Ocean Strategy. It helps businesses explore new market spaces by identifying customer groups that are not currently being served, identifying alternative products or services that could meet unmet needs, and exploring untapped geographic markets. This framework encourages businesses to think creatively and explore new possibilities in order to create new demand.

Overall, the Blue Ocean Strategy is a powerful approach to business strategy that encourages businesses to think beyond the traditional boundaries of competition and to explore new market spaces. By focusing on value innovation and understanding the factors that drive competition and pricing, businesses can create uncontested market spaces and achieve long-term success.

Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean

The Blue Ocean Strategy challenges the traditional approach to strategic planning, which focuses on outperforming competitors in an existing market, known as the Red Ocean. Instead, it encourages businesses to create new market spaces where competition is irrelevant, known as the Blue Ocean.

The Strategic Canvas is a tool used to visualize the current and potential market space of a business. By comparing the company’s business model to its competitors, businesses can identify areas where they can differentiate their offerings and create new demand.

The Six Paths Framework is another tool used to guide businesses in exploring new market spaces. It examines six different components: looking across alternative industries, strategic groups, complementary products and services, functional and emotional appeal to buyers, time, and the adoption cycle. By analyzing these areas, businesses can discover untapped market potential and create uncontested market space.

“To successfully create a Blue Ocean strategy, a business must not only differentiate itself from competitors but also create a new market space to compete in.”

The Strategic Canvas and Six Paths Framework are powerful tools that can help businesses identify and capitalize on Blue Ocean opportunities. By understanding the fundamental differences between Red Ocean versus Blue Ocean strategies, businesses can embrace the principles and frameworks outlined in the Blue Ocean Strategy book to create innovative solutions and drive long-term success.

Creating Buyer Utility

One of the key concepts in Blue Ocean Strategy is the notion of creating buyer utility, which involves offering products or services that provide exceptional value to customers. To achieve this, businesses need to focus on the four actions framework, which involves:

  • Eliminating factors that do not add value to the customer experience.
  • Reducing factors that can be simplified without sacrificing value.
  • Raising factors that provide exceptional value to the customer.
  • Creating factors that the industry has never offered.

By following this framework, businesses can create products or services that stand out from the competition and meet the unique needs of their target customers. This approach can help businesses to unlock new market opportunities and build customer loyalty.

“By creating products or services that offer exceptional value to customers, businesses can differentiate themselves in highly competitive markets and achieve long-term success.”

Engaging Non-Customers

One of the key principles of Blue Ocean Strategy is the importance of engaging non-customers. These are individuals or groups who are not currently using your product or service but have the potential to become loyal customers. By identifying and targeting non-customers, businesses can expand their market and tap into new sources of revenue.

The first step in engaging non-customers is understanding their needs and preferences. This requires research and analysis to gain insights into their behavior and motivations. Businesses can use tools such as surveys, focus groups, and social media analytics to gather data on non-customers and identify patterns and trends.

Once businesses have a clear understanding of their non-customers, they can develop strategies to attract and retain them. This may involve creating new products or services that meet their needs, offering promotions or discounts, or providing exceptional customer service.

For example, Apple’s iPod and iTunes disrupted the music industry by engaging non-customers who were previously downloading music illegally or not at all. By providing a seamless and convenient platform for purchasing and managing music, Apple was able to convert non-customers into loyal customers.

“Engaging non-customers requires a deep understanding of their needs and preferences, and a willingness to innovate and adapt to changing market dynamics.”

Engaging non-customers requires a deep understanding of their needs and preferences, and a willingness to innovate and adapt to changing market dynamics. It may require businesses to take risks and invest in new technologies or processes. However, the potential rewards of tapping into new market spaces can be substantial, providing long-term growth and success.

Tipping Point Leadership

Tipping point leadership is a critical concept in the Blue Ocean Strategy, which emphasizes the importance of driving organizational change and mobilizing teams to achieve strategic goals.

At its core, tipping point leadership involves targeting the key players in the organization who can influence others and create momentum. By engaging these individuals and empowering them to take ownership of the strategy, leaders can drive adoption and overcome resistance to change.

One key aspect of tipping point leadership is identifying and addressing the “four hurdles” that can impede progress: cognitive, resource, motivational, and political. By proactively addressing these obstacles, leaders can create a sense of urgency and build momentum for change.

“Tipping point leaders don’t just follow the crowd or wait for others to take action-they are proactive in driving change.”

Ultimately, tipping point leadership is about creating a sense of ownership and buy-in among team members, inspiring them to take action and embrace the Blue Ocean Strategy. By leveraging the power of tipping point leadership, businesses can achieve lasting change and unlock new opportunities for growth and success.

Applying Blue Ocean Strategy in Practice

Now that we have explored the key principles and frameworks of the Blue Ocean Strategy, it’s time to see how they can be applied in practice.

One example is Cirque du Soleil, which transformed the circus industry by creating a new market space that combined elements of traditional circus performances with theater and music. By focusing on value innovation and creating a unique experience for its audience, Cirque du Soleil was able to differentiate itself from traditional circuses and create new demand for its shows.

Another example is Nintendo, which developed the Wii gaming console that targeted non-gamers and expanded the market beyond traditional gaming enthusiasts. By creating a product that was easy to use and appealed to non-traditional gaming segments, Nintendo was able to create a blue ocean of new demand and achieve long-term success.

These examples demonstrate the power of the Blue Ocean Strategy in creating new market demand and achieving business success by focusing on value innovation and exploring untapped market spaces.

“The only way to beat the competition is to stop trying to beat the competition.” – W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

By adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy, companies can break away from the competition and create their own market space, rather than fighting for a share of existing market spaces. This approach can lead to sustained growth and profitability, as the company is able to offer something truly unique and valuable to its customers.

However, implementing a Blue Ocean Strategy is not without its challenges. Companies may struggle to identify blue ocean opportunities, or face resistance to change from within their organization. Nevertheless, the potential rewards of creating new market demand make the effort worthwhile.

Overall, the key takeaway is that the Blue Ocean Strategy is a powerful framework for businesses looking to reinvent their strategies and achieve long-term success in today’s competitive marketplace. By focusing on value innovation and exploring untapped market spaces, companies can unlock new opportunities and create their own blue oceans of new demand.

Benefits and Challenges of Blue Ocean Strategy

Adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy can offer numerous benefits to businesses, including:

  • Creating new market demand: By exploring untapped market spaces and innovating value propositions, businesses can differentiate themselves from the competition and create new demand.
  • Unlocking growth potential: Blue Ocean Strategy can help businesses identify new opportunities for growth, tapping into non-traditional customer segments and expanding their market reach.
  • Fostering innovation: The emphasis on value innovation and buyer utility can foster a culture of creativity and experimentation within organizations, driving continuous innovation.
  • Enhancing brand reputation: By creating products or services that offer exceptional value to customers, businesses can build a strong brand reputation and increase customer loyalty.

However, there are also challenges associated with adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy:

  • Risk of failure: Innovation and market creation are inherently risky, and not all Blue Ocean initiatives will be successful.
  • High upfront investments: Creating new market demand and expanding into new market spaces can require significant upfront investments and resources.
  • Resistance to change: Implementation of Blue Ocean Strategy may require significant change within organizations, which can be difficult to achieve and may face resistance from employees and stakeholders.
  • Competition: As Blue Oceans attract new entrants, businesses must remain vigilant and continue to innovate to maintain their competitive advantage.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy far outweigh the risks, making it a worthwhile approach for businesses to consider.

Critique and Controversies

Despite the popularity and success of Blue Ocean Strategy, it has also faced criticism and controversy. Critics argue that the book is full of buzzwords and lacks concrete guidance for businesses to actually implement the strategy. They also suggest that creating a new market space is easier said than done, and that not all businesses have the resources or capabilities to do so.

Another criticism is that Blue Ocean Strategy is too focused on innovation and ignores the importance of efficiency and operational effectiveness. Some argue that businesses need to balance both innovation and efficiency to achieve long-term success.

“The problem with Blue Ocean Strategy is that it’s very difficult to execute. It sounds great in theory but in practice, it’s much harder to create a new market space than to compete in an existing market.” – John Smith, business consultant

Despite the critiques, proponents of Blue Ocean Strategy argue that the book offers a fresh perspective on business strategy and encourages businesses to think outside the box. They assert that the frameworks and tools outlined in the book can be applied to any industry, and that success stories of companies that have implemented the strategy speak for themselves.

However, it’s important for businesses to carefully consider whether Blue Ocean Strategy is the right fit for their organization and industry. Like any business strategy, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach and requires careful planning and execution.

Key Takeaways from Blue Ocean Strategy

If you’re looking to pivot your business strategy and tap into new market demand, the Blue Ocean Strategy is a must-read. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Focus on value innovation: Redefine your products or services to create new market demand rather than competing with existing market players.
  • Explore untapped market spaces: Identify new segments that are currently underserved or unserved.
  • Use the strategic canvas: This tool can help you visualize your competitive landscape and identify areas where you can differentiate yourself.
  • Use the six paths framework: Use this framework to consider how you can innovate in six different areas such as industry trends and customer behavior.
  • Create buyer utility: Focus on creating products or services that offer exceptional value to customers, using the four actions framework to guide your efforts.
  • Engage non-customers: Expand your market by targeting non-traditional customer segments.
  • Practice tipping point leadership: Encourage organizational change and support the adoption of Blue Ocean Strategy throughout your company.
  • Apply Blue Ocean Strategy in practice: Look to case studies and success stories for inspiration on how to apply these principles in your own business.
  • Expect both benefits and challenges: While implementing Blue Ocean Strategy can unlock new opportunities, it also comes with potential risks and rewards.
  • Critique and controversies: Although the Blue Ocean Strategy has garnered widespread recognition, there are also critiques and controversies surrounding its effectiveness.

By incorporating these principles into your business strategy, you can unlock new opportunities and create demand in untapped market spaces. Take inspiration from companies that have successfully adopted the Blue Ocean Strategy and embrace the potential for organizational change and long-term success.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Case Studies and Success Stories

Real-life examples of businesses successfully implementing the Blue Ocean Strategy can provide invaluable insights and inspiration for other companies looking to reinvent their strategies. Here are some case studies and success stories:


Spotify is a leading music streaming service that transformed the traditional music industry by focusing on a blue ocean strategy. Rather than competing in the crowded market of music sales, they created a new market space by offering a subscription-based service for unlimited, ad-free streaming of millions of songs. By developing unique features such as personalized playlists and algorithm-based recommendations, Spotify created significant buyer utility and captured a large market share.

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil revolutionized the entertainment industry by blending the circus arts and theater to create a new and unique spectacle. By focusing on value innovation and targeting a non-traditional customer base of adults rather than children, Cirque du Soleil was able to differentiate itself from other circus companies and create a new market space. They also reduced costs by eliminating the use of animals, and instead used human artistry and innovative, high-tech designs to captivate their audience.

“Cirque du Soleil did not make the traditional competitive assumptions of assuming that they were in the circus business competing with other circuses. Instead, they redefined the market space and exploited uncontested market space.”

Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii was a game-changer in the video game industry, as it appealed to a new and unique customer segment: casual gamers. By avoiding direct competition with other game console manufacturers and focusing on value innovation, Nintendo was able to create a new market space for themselves. Their console’s unique feature, motion-controlled gameplay, allowed for an immersive and interactive gaming experience that appealed to a wider audience. As a result, the Nintendo Wii outsold the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in its first few years on the market.

These case studies demonstrate the power of the Blue Ocean Strategy and how it can transform traditional industries and create new market demand. By focusing on value innovation, creating new market spaces, and engaging non-traditional customer segments, businesses can successfully implement a Blue Ocean Strategy and achieve long-term success.


In conclusion, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne provides valuable insights on reinventing business strategies and creating new market demand. Through the use of frameworks such as the strategic canvas, six paths, and four actions, businesses can identify untapped market spaces and create products and services that offer exceptional value to customers.

While the Blue Ocean Strategy has been praised for its effectiveness, some critiques and controversies surrounding it must be acknowledged. However, by embracing the principles and strategies outlined in the book, businesses can unlock new opportunities and achieve long-term success.

The key takeaways from the book are clear: focus on value innovation, engage non-customers, and strive to create buyer utility. By doing so, businesses can successfully implement blue ocean strategies and drive organizational change through tipping point leadership.

Real-life case studies and success stories of companies that have implemented the Blue Ocean Strategy demonstrate its effectiveness in creating market demand and achieving long-term success.

In short, “Blue Ocean Strategy” is a must-read book for any business leader looking to reinvent their business strategy and take their company to the next level.


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