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what is blue ocean strategy

How SMEs Can Implement the Blue Ocean Strategy in 2024

In the relentless sea of competition, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often find themselves struggling to stay afloat. To navigate through these “red oceans”—market spaces swamped with competitors—SMEs must find alternative strategies that carve out uncontested market territories. This is where the Blue Ocean Strategy comes into play, offering a lifeline to innovative growth.

What is Blue Ocean Strategy? 

At its core, the Blue Ocean Strategy is about creating new demand in an uncontested market space, or a “Blue Ocean”, rather than competing head-to-head with other businesses in existing industries. This approach encourages companies to shift away from traditional competitive strategies and instead, innovate in ways that make competition irrelevant.

Blue Ocean Strategy Definition

what is blue ocean strategy  The Blue Ocean Strategy definition outlines a dual focus: it involves the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost, aiming to open up new demand and create a new market space. For SMEs, this strategy is particularly vital as it provides a framework to bypass barriers to entry in saturated markets and unlock vast new segments that are ripe for growth.

In 2024, as digital channels become even more integrated into everyday business processes, SMEs have unprecedented opportunities to apply this strategy. By leveraging digital marketing, SMEs can explore niche markets, understand unmet customer needs, and deliver value innovations that speak directly to these gaps in the market.

How does it differ from traditional competitive strategies? 

Traditional competitive strategies (or what we call ‘Red Ocean Strategies’) focus on outperforming rivals in established industries. It’s like a shark-infested red ocean, where businesses compete in a finite playground, often resulting in a bloody battle over market share, which diminishes profitability and growth.

Blue Ocean Strategy summary

  • Creating new demand: Instead of fighting over the same set of customers, find new pools of customers who are yet untapped.
  • Differentiation at lower costs: Achieve differentiation from competitors while also keeping your costs lower, not by downsizing but by innovating value in new ways.

The Blue Ocean Strategy isn’t just about market competition; it’s about making the market competition irrelevant. It’s about expanding the boundaries of an existing market or creating new markets, thus driving growth and profits in a more peaceful and strategic way.

By understanding these differences and applying the principles of the Blue Ocean Strategy, SMEs can navigate away from the saturated red oceans and make a splash in new, blue waters. Isn’t it time to chart a course to uncharted waters where opportunities await? Let’s dive deeper into how this strategy can be practically applied in your business ventures.

Blue Ocean Strategy Examples for SMEs

Warby Parker – Revolutionising Eyewear

what is blue ocean strategy, example

Blue Ocean Strategy Summary

Warby Parker entered the highly competitive eyewear market by sidestepping traditional channels and business models. They offered affordable, stylish eyeglasses online, bypassing middlemen and physical stores. This not only reduced costs dramatically but also addressed customer dissatisfaction with the high price of eyewear.

Digital Marketing for SMEs (Warby Parker)

Warby Parker leveraged digital marketing by implementing a direct-to-consumer model online, using social media and digital advertising to reach a broad audience and educate them about their unique value proposition.

Casper – Disrupting the Mattress Industry

what is blue ocean strategy, example

Blue Ocean Strategy Summary

Casper created a new market space in the saturated mattress industry by selling directly to consumers online, offering a one-type-fits-all mattress. This simplicity and convenience contrasted sharply with the traditional experience of testing numerous models in a showroom.

Digital Marketing for SMEs (Casper)

Casper used content marketing and powerful digital campaigns that highlighted the convenience of purchasing and receiving a mattress in a box directly at your door, appealing to urban millennials.

Why Do Many Firms Fail to Successfully Implement a Blue Ocean Strategy?

Why Do Many Firms Fail to Successfully Implement a Blue Ocean Strategy?

  • Lack of Vision: Some firms lack a clear strategic vision that aligns with creating new demand or exploring uncontested markets.
  • Poor Execution: Without effective execution, even the best strategies can fail. This includes inadequate market research, poor customer understanding, and failure to communicate value propositions clearly through marketing channels.
  • Resistance to Change: Organisations often face internal inertia and resistance when attempting to shift from traditional competitive strategies to innovative, market-creating strategies.

Implementing Blue Ocean Strategy for SMEs in Digital Marketing

Blue Ocean Strategy Example: A Boutique Tea Shop

Blue Ocean Strategy Summary

Imagine a local boutique tea shop that decides to differentiate itself not just by selling artisan teas but by creating an immersive online platform where customers can create custom tea blends.

Strategy Execution

  • Market Research: Conduct surveys and use social listening tools to understand customer desires and unmet needs in the tea market.
  • Digital Experience: Develop an interactive website that allows customers to mix and match flavours to create their custom blend, which they can name and even brand with custom packaging.
  • Content Marketing: Use blogs, videos, and social media posts to educate customers about the origin of the teas, the benefits of different blends, and the joy of creating a personal tea blend.
Digital Marketing for SMEs (Tea Shop)

The tea shop can use targeted Facebook and Instagram ads to reach tea enthusiasts. SEO strategies can be employed by creating content around tea benefits, brewing techniques, and customer blend stories to drive organic traffic.

Community Building

Create an online community where customers can share their custom blends and brewing tips, and even vote on new flavours or seasonal blends.

6 Steps For SMEs To Implement the Blue Ocean Strategy in Singapore

Why Do Many Firms Fail to Successfully Implement a Blue Ocean Strategy?

Step 1: Market Research and Analysis

  • Identify Current Industry Pain Points: Understand the common frustrations and unmet needs of customers within your industry. This can be done through customer interviews, surveys, and social media listening.
  • Analyse Competitor Offerings: Study what competitors are doing and identify areas they are overlooking. This includes reviewing their product features, customer service, and marketing strategies.
  • Explore Adjacent Markets: Look for opportunities in markets closely related to yours where your products or services could be adapted with minimal changes.

Step 2: Strategy Formulation

  • Identify Non-Customers: Focus on the segments of the market that are not currently being served by industry players. These are potential customers who have either been overlooked or driven away by the complexities of current offerings.
  • Create Value Innovation: Develop offerings that provide superior value by eliminating or reducing features or services that are less valued by the target market, while enhancing or creating elements that are highly valued.
  • Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Craft a USP that distinguishes your offering from anything else on the market. This should clearly articulate why customers should choose you over the competition.

Step 3: Business Model Innovation

  • Rethink Pricing Strategy: Consider innovative pricing strategies that can disrupt the market. This could involve subscription models, pay-as-you-go options, or bundling services differently.
  • Leverage Technology: Utilise digital technologies to enhance customer experience, streamline operations, or deliver your product or service in a novel way.
  • Sustainability Practices: Integrate eco-friendly and sustainable practices into your business model to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.

Step 4: Validation and Testing

  • Prototype and MVP Development: Create prototypes or Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) to test your blue ocean ideas with real customers in a controlled and manageable way.
  • Gather Feedback and Iterate: Use customer feedback to refine the product or service. This iterative process helps in fine-tuning your offering before a full-scale launch.

Step 5: Execution and Launch

  • Develop a Go-to-Market Strategy: Plan a compelling launch that highlights the innovative aspects of your new offering. This should include targeted marketing campaigns that communicate the unique benefits of your product or service.
  • Monitor Performance: Once launched, closely monitor the performance of your offering through customer feedback and performance metrics. Be prepared to make quick adjustments based on this data.
  • Scale Gradually: Focus on scaling your operations gradually to maintain quality and customer satisfaction as demand grows.

Step 6: Continuous Innovation

  • Stay Customer-Focused: Continuously engage with your customers to ensure that your offerings remain relevant and valuable as needs and markets evolve.
  • Foster an Innovative Culture: Encourage creativity and innovation within your team. Regular brainstorming sessions and incentives for innovative ideas can sustain a culture of innovation.

Blue Ocean Strategy Book Summary 

Blue Ocean Strategy Book Summary

If you’re too busy to read the book, don’t fear—here’s a breakdown of “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. The authors challenge traditional competitive strategies by introducing the concept of ‘Blue Oceans’—untapped new market spaces ripe for innovation. Unlike ‘Red Oceans’, where companies fiercely compete over a shrinking profit pool, Blue Oceans offers the opportunity to create new demand and make the competition irrelevant. This innovative approach encourages businesses to explore and capitalise on new markets, rather than battling it out in saturated spaces.

  • Value Innovation is the cornerstone, focusing on making the competition irrelevant by creating leaps in value for both the company and its customers.
  • The Four Actions Framework helps determine what to eliminate, reduce, raise, and create to unlock new value.
  • The Strategy Canvas and ERRC Grid (Eliminate, Reduce, Raise, Create) assist businesses in visualising the changes needed to transition from red to blue oceans.
  • The Six Paths Framework pushes companies to look beyond traditional competitors and redefine market boundaries.

Basically, “Blue Ocean Strategy” provides a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and tapping into new markets with vast opportunities for growth and profitability. 


The journey through the Blue Ocean Strategy offers multiple transformative benefits for SMEs, particularly in a competitive landscape like Singapore’s. By embracing this strategic approach, businesses can unlock new demand and create markets where they set the rules. This strategy not only reduces direct competition but also significantly enhances profitability and scalability.

Key Benefits:

  • Differentiation: SMEs can set themselves apart from competitors, not just through their products or services but through their entire business model.
  • Cost Efficiency: By eliminating and reducing non-essential features or services, companies can lower costs while simultaneously increasing value for customers.
  • Growth Opportunities: Exploring untapped markets opens up vast possibilities for growth that were previously hidden by the boundaries of existing markets.

Innovation isn’t just about new products; it’s about rethinking how we approach markets, customers, and our own business potential. SMEs in Singapore are ideally positioned to leverage this strategy, given the robust economic framework and support for entrepreneurial activities in the region.


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