What category disruptors can teach your brand?

Remember the last time you used a map? Asked the neighbor to check on your house while you’re away? Consulted a guidebook while traveling? Drove to the store to shop for CDs, mattresses, home furnishings or beauty products?

Odds are, those traditional experiences are not as common as they used to be. That’s because innovative brands—known as “disruptors”—have fundamentally changed how we live, work, shop and play.

Disruptors like Google Maps, Nest Home products, Yelp reviews, Spotify streaming, Wayfair home decor (and numerous others) have reinvented their respective categories. They’ve transformed rapidly from humble roots to household names, and in the process, introduced a new level of competition for brands of all stripes.


How to market—and grow—like a disruptor

Just what is a disruptor? A recent report identifies them as brands that “significantly challenge and subsequently change previously well-established consumer behaviors and norms.” Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google are considered the original five—a group so influential, it boasts its own acronym, FAANG.

However, brands at any stage and size can take a page from the playbook in use by these game-changing companies. Just follow these three strategies that successful disruptors share:


Solve a real-world problem.

This sounds like straightforward advice, but it’s harder than it appears, particularly in established categories with tried-and-true solutions. Disruptive brands see the world through a completely fresh lens. As a result, their elegant ideas often scratch an itch most consumers didn’t realize they had. 

Spotify and Netflix, for example, challenge the concept of “ownership” in order to enjoy your favorite music, shows or movies. Facebook introduced social networking. 23andMe, a DNA testing company, helps amateur genealogists understand their roots—without hours spent trolling historical records. All provide tangible consumer gain in a way that was out-of-the-box at launch and now considered mainstream.


Deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Experiences are the new products, and disruptive brands put consumer goals and lifestyle preferences front and center. This makes marketing, packaging, delivery and community just as important as the offering itself.

Dollar Shave Club, for example, found success by taking the rather mundane process of personal grooming to the next level with a brand that’s about far more than inexpensive razor blades. Uber, Dyson, Spotify and others have similarly enthusiastic fan bases, one of the hallmarks of topflight customer experiences.


Harness the power of TV.

While many disruptor brands are “born digital,” that doesn’t mean their marketing relies solely on online tactics. In fact, a recent study of 35 well-known disruptive brands found broadcast advertising played a major role in each company’s growth trajectory.

Specifically, through TV advertising, each company:

1) Rapidly increased consumer engagement

2) Grew revenues

3) Built their user base aggressively

4) Drove up company valuations


Television advertising not only expanded awareness and sales for brands like Yelp, Dollar Shave Club, Care.com, FitBit and Blue Apron, it simultaneously improved website traffic when their TV spots began to air. TV advertising also netted better online performance through increased search and social actions. It’s a media so powerful, the Video Advertising Bureau described it as “where disruptors go to grow big.”

Whether your brand is known or new, traditional or upstart, few are immune from the competitive pressure of industry disruptors. Take time now to assess how you will remain relevant and fuel future growth.

Make bold moves in your category. Broadcast advertising delivers a surefire marketing investment for savvy brands ready to accelerate their growth. Contact us to hear more.