Earthworm, Snail, Porcupine and Co.
By Harish Bijoor
Competition is a reality. None of us can ignore competition. There is competition in the home, in the school, in college, in office and most certainly in the great Indian market-place as a whole.
If there is life, there is competition. The baby in the house competes for your attention, just as that brand new hair gel on the shelf is seeking out your attention amidst a clutter of competition weighing down the super-market shelf.
How does one really compete? Let me paint four models.
If I am to look around the nations of the world and correlate competitive models in current use, there are four distinct patterns that emerge. Four clusters that have whole sets of nations congregating in models those seem to work for each of them differently and with different levels of efficacy. Needless to say, the peculiarities of each nation in question dictate the distinct choice they have made for themselves. Let’s visit the clusters. And let’s call them all kinds of animal names.
1. The Earthworm Model:
The passive model of competitive reaction. The invitation theory that is best practiced by the earthworm. A rich worm really. It knows the basics best. It is in constant touch with the earth that it seeks nourishment from and nourishes back simultaneously. A fundamentally strong being.
Several problems in this model though. It is passive for one. Non-reactionary. A model in the self-fulfilling prophecy mode. The best example of the fatalistic theory of the East in practice. When faced with danger, all it can do is continue its humble journey in the earth. Competition kills this model with ease. There is no reaction. The fatalistic model of competition at its best!
Is the Indian marketer here? I
2.The Snail model:
The common competitive model in practice by a whole host of nations. This model is reactively proactive. A clear cocoon orientation. When faced with competition and danger, there is a regression into the shell. The withdrawn marketer at play. The philosopher marketer even! The marketer who revels in the safety-static nexus. Waiting for the competition to just go away, so that normal life may resume again!
3. The Porcupine Model:
This model tells the competitor clearly of the array of weapons that are available for retributive action. There is a clear emphasis on the display of the arsenal. It believes in the overt display. A clear détente model of competition. Avoids a lot of speculative action and is ready for the real battle
Many marketers seem here.
4. The Everyone Else Model:
This is the model of the real-time player in competitive markets of the present and certainly the future. This is the real-time marketer. Reactive when necessary. Proactive when necessary. Guerilla in tactics when necessary as well!
This is a constant-change oriented model that believes in watching the scenario carefully and reacting accordingly. Making forays into proactive territory on a speculative basis. Never mind if even only one of those sixteen forays actually click! Life in the fast track of competitive marketing is pretty un-predictable and speculative. Change here is absolutely discontinuous. Making a decision on a point of competitive strategy based on happenings of the past and the present could be disastrous. The future never ever happens the way the past decided.
Change here is so discontinuous that it is aptly illustrated by the example of the baby-arrival process in the house. The first child in this baby-boomers house is born out of a Caesarian section, gone in for by an over-zealous gynecologist. The second baby of the house is therefore predictably to be one out of a similar process. Caesarian section! No! It isn’t. Change is discontinuous. The second baby is a natural birth! The third child is due to happen then. This time round, its Caesarian section as well! Oops!
The fourth child of this baby-happy home is due. Change is indeed discontinuous. There is no predictability here. Guess what! This time round, the baby is actually conceived, carried and delivered by the father of the baby! Oops! Again! Change is indeed that discontinuous!
The author is a brand-strategy specialist & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.