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Disruptive Advertising: Analysis, Research, Facts

Advertising has become a complex task. What used to work to get a brand’s messaging across no longer makes people turn their head. People are beginning to take on a ‘nothing surprises me’ outlook. Only the most shocking and unexpected ads gain our attention. Hence the recent increase in need for Disruptive Advertising.

Though until recently it wasn’t widely used, Disruptive Advertising has actually been around for a while. Protests date back Laurie1hundreds of years, when people realized that last-minute gatherings would effectively gain attention. The term Flash Mob was officially coined in 2003, but people have been thinking about it for years as well (think Larry Niven’s 1973 story, ‘Flash Crowd’). And what about 3D Projections? They’ve actually been around since the 1950s!     

Nonetheless, until a few years ago, we continued to focus our advertising efforts on more traditional, passive ads. But recently, as more and more products are created, there is more competition between brands. Advertisers need innovative initiatives to enjoy the first-mover advantage and break through the clutter to generate awareness. Nowadays, successful products aren’t just unique, they inspire consumers to change their behavior by presenting them with NEW ideas.


So how can we be effective in our Disruptive Advertising? Research by Neilson shows that there are 5 ways to make Disruptive Advertising work:

1. Catch consumers’ attention. Offer a distinct consumer proposition ‚Äì get their attention with a new product or bring laurie3something substantially new to the market. Disruptive initiatives don‚Äôt just stand out, they also demonstrate true distinctiveness. (Take Nutri-Express, a drink introduced by the Chinese beverage manufacturer Wahaha Group, which combines milk and juice, thereby creating a new sub-category, “juicy milk.”)¬†

2. Convey a distinct consumer proposition. Once a distinct idea captures consumers’ attention, ad messages should be clear and uncluttered. If your new product or service is trying to change consumer behavior or add new habits to an old routine, it is particularly important to educate consumers.

3. Generate consumer attraction. Being unique does not guarantee concept appeal. You have to demonstrate that your distinctiveness is desirable.

4. Convert consumer attraction at the point of purchase. Point of purchase is a good place to have additional educationlaurie4 about your initiatives and to limit potential store confusion. (For example, Knorr Dense Soup and Swanson Broth are ideal products to demonstrate on-site to show how the product is used and what the end product looks like.)

5. Deliver an enduring product. Unsurprisingly, a crucial factor for success is high product performance which meets or exceeds consumers’ expectations.


Following these tips will help to create disruption, but in order for it to be most effective, ideal market conditions must be present:

1. The market for the product or service is experiencing, or is likely to experience, an increased rate of demand. This demand might be created by social, business, or regulatory change.

2. The economic outcomes in providing, acquiring, or adopting the product or service must be significantly better than the prevailing offerings.

3. The business model or core technology used for the innovation must be both fundamentally different from the prevailing offerings and sustainable.

Even if all of these things occur, the magnitude of the disruptive impact resulting from innovation/advertising can take many years to develop, and the influence of many of the variables involved is unknown at the time the innovation is introduced. (The market consequences from nascent innovations such as iPhone, Linux, and digital media file sharing, are still unknown…)


So what are the lessons learned? First, market disruption does create value for customers. Before there was disruption in the music laurie5industry, consumers had to accept music in the form of complete albums-from artists that record companies wanted to record, in the order they recorded them, on the media they provided, from retail channels they controlled, and at the prices they wanted to charge. Digital technology changed the power in the industry. We can now listen to whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want.

And here’s the second lesson: customers are not interested in disruptive products per se; they’re interested in the outcomes those products provide. Chasing the objective of creating a disruptive technology will almost surely divert one’s attention from achievement of more worthwhile goals. Why? Because market disruption is a byproduct of other strategies. ¬†As Neilson‚Äôs research outlined, we MUST follow the correct strategies in order to, in turn, make our disruptive advertising as effective as it can be. If we can do this, all of the research proves that we will be successful at what we, as advertisers, are trying to do.




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