In a world where giants such as Apple, Starbucks and Coca-Cola dominate the market, it is important to not forget about the little guys that are going up against them every day. Being a challenger brand is no easy task, but it isn’t impossible. It requires you to be bold and to take risks.
That is exactly what these five brands have done. They have managed to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. They have managed to become household names, despite being relatively new on the scene.
Netflix is a good example of a disrupter –a type of challenger brand that seeks to shake up an entire industry by changing the rules and introducing new ways for customers to interact with products or services.
A few years ago, Netflix challenged traditional TV broadcasters by offering streaming as an alternative way to watch TV shows and films. Today it’s challenging cinema chains by producing original feature films such as Beasts of No Nation and Okja, which debut exclusively on its platform rather than in cinemas first.
They’ve taken on the hotel industry, they’re building a community and they’ve created a new way of staying in other people’s homes. And they were just worth $24 billion.
Airbnb has created a different experience for their customers and it shows that consumers are willing to pay for something different. It's done so well that traditional hotel groups have felt threatened enough to respond with their own initiatives.
3. Dollar Shave Club
Founded in 2011 by Mark Levine, the company followed a direct-to-consumer model and aimed to disrupt the men's razor market.
One of its goals was to increase transparency in the men's shaving industry by offering customers a simple choice between different razors at different prices. By doing this, Dollar Shave Club hoped to take on industry giants Gillette and Schick, which at the time controlled most of the market share.
Dollar Shave Club gained attention by challenging Gillette's pricing model through online videos. It also provided an alternative to customers who were dissatisfied with the quality of their razors or wanted better value for money.
Before Amazon, online purchases were a novelty. The e-commerce giant transformed how people shop online. Now, we expect to be able to buy almost anything online, within minutes or hours.
Its convenience and expansive selection have made it one of the most successful companies in history — even without a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
Uber was built in response to a genuine consumer need. Getting a cab in San Francisco could be difficult and time consuming, especially at peak times like Friday and Saturday evenings. Uber's founders had experienced this frustration themselves and wanted to create an alternative solution.
Their approach was informed by their passion for technology and the belief that they could use digital means to disrupt an analogue industry.
A great challenger brand pushes you to be better, to do better and, as a result, will likely lead you towards innovation.
If there was one core takeaway, it would be that being a challenger brand is not easy and requires an enormous amount of work and effort—but the rewards can be well worth it.
Hopefully we have provided some insight into the ways in which challenger brands continue to excel outside of the mainstream market, but they are best understood by the experiences they create for their customers.
At a time when design continues to become more crucial to a business's success, it is important not to forget about challenger brands and the role that great design can play in making companies stand out from their competition.