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01Jan '12

Finding Uncontested Markets for European Fruit and Vegetables Through Applying the Blue Ocean Strategy

British Food Journal

Theme: Empirical study assessing ex-ante applicability and strength of blue ocean strategy in the highly competitive European fruit and vegetable industry (EFVI).

Summary: This paper reports on an empirical study assessing the ex-ante applicability of blue ocean strategy, the central research question being whether the blue ocean strategy frameworks support the identification of uncontested market spaces in any industry, regardless of how competitive it is. To this end, a two-stage research methodology is applied to the highly competitive European fruit and vegetable industry (EFVI). In the first stage, desk research and interviews were conducted with top executives of the selected case studies, and qualitative primary data was gathered in order to draw an ‘as is’ strategy canvas for the industry. In the second stage, a structured survey, sent to 299 EFVI companies (garnering an 8% response rate), was used to empirically test identification of an untapped market space using blue ocean strategic frameworks, such as the four actions, the six paths, and the strategic sequence of blue ocean strategy. A revolutionary untapped market space named “Youngfruit” is identified ex-ante by focusing on two paths across conventional industry boundaries, namely (path 3) redefining the industry buyer group to target children and teenagers, and (path 1) looking across alternative industries to that of candies/sweets, that children and teenagers prefer to fresh fruits. Combining bite-sized pieces of fresh fruit in attractive packaging with a bonus award system and per-piece pricing, the survey respondents confirm that “Youngfruit” has high potential to make the competition irrelevant. The authors suggest that blue ocean strategy supports thinking beyond industry routines and common knowledge to reinvigorate industry life cycles. They show that blue ocean strategy tools and frameworks enable the derivation of untapped market spaces and provide important insights into changing the rules of the game to set oneself apart from competitors.

Reference: Wubben, Emiel F. M., S. Düsseldorf, and M. H. Batterink. "Finding Uncontested Markets for European Fruit and Vegetables through Applying the Blue Ocean Strategy.” British Food Journal 114 (2012): 248-271.
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