Creating a blue ocean is not a static achievement but rather a dynamic process. Once a company creates a blue ocean and its powerful performance results become known, sooner or later imitators appear on the horizon. However, a blue ocean strategy often inherently produces barriers to imitation.
Frequently these barriers are cognitive: competitors restrict themselves from imitation because of brand image conflicts, or because the blue ocean strategy simply cannot be justified according to conventional strategic logic. For example, for many years CNN, broadcasting 24/7 global news, was ridiculed by the news industry as “chicken noodle news.” Barriers can also be organizational. Because imitation often requires companies to make substantial changes to their existing business practices, politics often kick in, effectively delaying a company’s commitment to imitate a blue ocean strategy. Finally, the economic force of a robust blue ocean creates natural barriers: the high volume generated by value innovation leads to rapid cost advantages and economies of scale that place potential imitators at an on-going cost disadvantage. The best way to defend blue oceans and to block new entrants from a newly-created market for as long as possible is to heighten these barriers with constant improvement on your initial blue ocean strategy.