Will other firms enter your blue ocean?: Imitation of blue ocean strategies

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The danger if other firms imitate your blue ocean strategy

If you are considering a blue ocean strategy, it is important to recognize the danger of other firms being able to imitate your approach. A blue ocean strategy intends to create a new market – free of competitors. This allows your company to step aware from ‘red oceans’ – markets where there is substantial competition between a set of firms all competing on the same dimensions. 

However, while there are many benefits from operating in a market without other competitors, these benefits start to erode if other companies are able to enter your market. A market that may begin as a blue ocean can quickly become less attractive if other companies, transforming your opportunity free of competitors into much more intense competition.

Can other firms move: What are the mobility barriers?

When considering if your blue ocean is likely to remain blue, it is useful to consider mobility barriers that your competitors would face in changing their approach to move into your blue ocean. Mobility barriers consider the difficulties that other firms would face in changing position – whether they can reconfigure their resources and capabilities to move, or whether their branding is inherently incompatible with the new market. 

Are you able to build-up a first move advantage?

Another component influencing whether you are likely to be able to maintain your blue ocean is whether by going first you are able to build a first-mover advantage. If you are for example able to build resources that others are not able to easily imitate. Potentially you are able to acquire resources or establish a brand early on, that it would be difficult for other firms entering at a later point in time to be able to acquire. 

Can you continue to move to new blue oceans?

Another approach to defending your blue ocean is to continually move into new blue oceans. If you are able to identify new dimensions to compete on (and particularly if they are dimensions that themselves would be difficult for your competitors to imitate), you can potentially stay ahead of encroaching competition. 

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