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Industry Insights

Disruptive Marketing: Going Against the Grain in Advertising

By Akhila Sriram on January 10, 2022

What is Disruptive Marketing?

According to Marketing Schools, “disruption is more a business model than a marketing approach.” The idea of disruptive marketing comes from the goal of creating ripples and a splash in crowded markets and sectors. For many businesses, their industry is full of similar businesses to themselves, in fierce and stiff competition. Disruption paired with innovation and strategy can help businesses stand out from the rest. Disruptive marketing entails stepping outside the normal bounds of how businesses in a specific sector do advertising and marketing, or using marketing to show that a specific business is a disruptive one in the whole field of competitors.

In our high-speed, convenience-prioritizing digital world, customers remember businesses that stand out from the rest. This can be due to disruptive marketing and how these stand-out advertising campaigns stick in customers’ memories. Specifically, social media marketing that stands apart from the rest tends to stick out to potential and current customers,

Disruptive Innovation Driving Change

Disruptive innovation and disruptive marketing are connected but not the same concept. Disruptive innovation can come through companies doing something different, when it comes to product development or strategy, that their competitors aren’t doing. This can eventually lead to change within an industry.

Here’s a list from the Data Driven Investor on Medium of disruptors in recent history:

  • Wikipedia → Traditional Encyclopedias
  • Ipad → Portable computers
  • Google Maps → Navigation system & paper maps
  • Skype → Telecommunication system
  • Netflix → CD/DVD rentals
  • Amazon → Book selling shops/chains.
  • Uber/Ola → Taxi Cab, Ride-sharing

Disruptive Marketing in the Wild

Successful disruptive marketing can precede a fundamental shift in an industry. As a great case study, the replacement of hard disc storage devices with online and cloud storage and file sharing has seen the slow deprecation of hard-copy storage devices, such as floppy and compact discs. This transition has seen the hilarious confusion of younger generations when it comes to the “save” buttons on online programs as the shape and icon of the now retired floppy disc. This is an example of disruptive marketing changing an industry.

As a good example of disruptive marketing making a difference in marketing alone, look no farther than the American fast food chain Arby’s. For the past handful of years, their social media has focused on creating content focused on pop culture trends and references to TV shows, movies, books, and other popular media. Their efforts to relate to their followers through their creative content even won them a Shorty award for its Instagram accounts increased organic traffic and audience metrics. By engaging with what customers care about, through anime, webtoon, and music lyric references, Arby’s is doing advertising on social media like no other fast food brand. And they’re continuing to carry on these disruptive practices to build this online reputation of being creative, different and innovative. Customers love personalized and engaging experiences with businesses, so this method has become a winning one for the brand.

Not-So Disruptive Marketing in the Wild

Unsuccessful disruptive marketing tries to stand apart from the rest, but ends up not making a difference, when it comes to customer attention and interest. Think of this as a hit-and-a-miss when it comes to marketing strategy that tries something different within the industry. The problem with unsuccessful examples of disruptive marketing is that they don’t make an impact on audiences, and aren’t easy to recall to memory. But sometimes previously disruptive or stand-out businesses fall out of use because they’ve been out-disrupted by other businesses.

A great example of this is the slow decline of Skype use amidst the recent increased use of videoconferencing platforms. With the onset of the pandemic, and the shift to virtual platforms to keep everyone remote but still connected, suddenly Microsoft Teams and Zoom and similar platforms skyrocketed, and Skype was nowhere to be seen. After being a great standard and standout videoconferencing platform for so many years, at the crucial moment, its success was disrupted by the rest of the field of similar platforms. A great opportunity for continuing to stand apart from competitors and stay on top of the huge wave of new teleconference users was lost.

Sustainable Disruptive Marketing is Difficult

Marketing and advertising is how businesses make a name for themselves. By putting on a unified face for the business, customers will remember the business when it comes time to purchase. Always being disruptive is impossible. Businesses can strike upon a great disruptive strategy, which may work just for that business, just for a period of time, or may become adopted by the industry-at-large. But that can never last forever, or become a sustainable business practice.

Constant disruption eventually becomes difficult to maintain in the long run. Or creating and testing disruptive ideas may become a bad investment in the long run, even if certain strategies or instances prove successful. And when it comes to creating and testing sustainable disruptive marketing ideas, an article on Forbes agrees that people rarely “behave (or rather, misbehave)…or react in linear customer journeys, or at scale.” When it comes to creating or predicting successful disruptive ideas, businesses may not get the ROI they were hoping for, depending on market and customer behaviors.

Strategizing Disruptive Marketing with OSG

At the beginning of OSG’s history, we got our start by supporting companies in building disruptive marketing strategies. Our mission as a company has been to make companies more customer-centric. That mission has stood the test of time. Our work with hundreds of clients in thousands of engagements has shown that focusing on customers helps drive sustained and lasting growth for businesses. Our product OSG o360 is designed to track the full customer journey and capture what advertising, marketing, and messaging impacts how customers make decisions. By gathering online and offline customer journey data, our technology is able to use our behavioral and cognitive analytics to break down where customers are looking and what messaging is making an impact on their path to purchase.