From Marginal to Mainstream - Business Leader News

From Marginal to Mainstream

“A rigorous and compelling argument for why marketing needs to radicalise its thinking, and turn common practice upside down, if it is to find the growth it promises.” ― Kate Waters, Director of Client Strategy and Planning for ITV

An award-winning columnist, adjunct associate professor of Marketing at London Business School, and a member of the board of the UK Effies, Helen Edwards embarks on a journey of growth and discovery for branding advantages in business.

Edwards utilises her teaching and writing skills to urge marketers and entrepreneurs to distance themselves from ‘mainstream inhibition’, and embrace life at the fringes in order to unleash the potential for new growth. The book aims to provide a framework for understanding the untapped potential of business, and how to use it to your advantage.

Here is an extract from From Marginal to Mainstream: Why Tomorrow’s Brand Growth Will Come Back from the Fringes by Dr. Helen Edwards.

Sometimes, a marginal behaviour, perhaps one that’s been around and overlooked for decades, will burst through and become accepted and embraced by the majority. It will go mainstream for example the explosive and seemingly unstoppable rise of veganism.

It may not happen often – although when it does happen, the effect on the categories immediately in the eye of the storm, as well as those in adjacent territory, is profound. It is a kind of disruption. Not the tech-driven disruption that has created colossi like Uber and Airbnb and brought traditional industries to their knees in the process. This time it is consumer-driven disruption – but its power to foster new growth, dismantle established barriers and create winners and losers is no less intense.

When consumer-driven disruption is unleashed, the open and free market is no place for the passive. So, businesses, brands and marketers react, with all the alacrity and resources at their disposal, to adjust to and get ahead of the new behavioural reality. Machine lines will be retooled, priorities switched, research hastily scrambled, shelf space reassigned, supply chains culled and new ones opened, regulatory approvals urgently sought, alliances dismantled and fresh partnerships explored.

Marketers will be front and centre in this shifting of priorities

Keeping tabs on consumer uptake, monitoring competitor reaction, abruptly clawing back innovation budgets from projects attached to the old paradigm to fund brave initiatives in the new one. They are right to do so. No marketer can afford for the brand to be left on the seashore as the behavioural tide sweeps away.

But perhaps they can do better than that. Better than simply reacting after the storm has broken. Perhaps diligent and perceptive marketers could find ways not just to monitor the change in consumer behaviour as it happens but to predict it way in advance. Perhaps there are signs, clues, principles, motifs that, if accurately interpreted, could take them ahead of competitors. Armed with these projections – these evidence-supported hunches – prescient marketers could make their adjustments before disruption happens, and be at the leading edge when it does. There are risks, of course. It won’t be for everyone. But might it not be a better way of unleashing new growth than slogging it out with rivals for the same consumers in the same behavioural space?

And would it be hubristic to go further even than that – to imagine that some marketers, the real frontrunners, could move beyond mere predicting to active facilitating? Could they find ways to look at promising marginal behaviours and play a part in helping create the explosive move to the mainstream in the first place? Making the weather, not merely forecasting it? This would be a view of marketing that sees it as a far more entrepreneurial discipline than it tends to be right now.

Both are possible: predictive advantage and entrepreneurial agency. Either way, what is needed is not merely an understanding of the power of consumer-driven disruption but a structured grasp of the underlying currents, forces and circumstances that propel it.

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