Disruptive Technologies

How to Capture a Market by Appealing to Neglected Customers

Disruptive Technologies - How to Capture a Market by Appealing to Neglected Customers

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Disruptive technologies can shatter established ideas.

Imagine that you've got a great business idea to pitch to your boss, but you don't have the resources required to tackle the market leader head-on. Well, the good news is that "disruption" offers another potential way to win.

Learning about disruptive technologies can help you to understand how a small organization with a great idea can overtake a much bigger player.

"Disruptive" has become such a buzzword in business that it's important to know where it came from, and what it means. The term has taken on a life of its own, and it is used in ways that its creator never intended.

In this article, we explore the origins of the theory of disruptive technologies, and explain how it has evolved. And we examine a five-step process for identifying and working with disruptive technologies.

The Origins of Disruptive Technologies

The theory of disruptive technologies was developed in 1995 by Clayton M. Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He described a technology that is able to gain a foothold in the low end of a market by appealing to overlooked consumers.

That low-end foothold exists because an existing provider of goods and services is focused on serving its most profitable, mainstream customers. It does this by refining its products, for example producing TVs with better picture quality. This opens the door to a disrupter that is focused, at least in the beginning, on providing the low-end market with a "good enough" product at a cheaper price.

The newcomer can then challenge, and potentially topple, the market leader by taking its products upmarket and winning over its rival's mainstream customers.


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