Canon’s strategic move, which created the personal desktop copier industry, is a classic example of blue ocean strategy. Traditional copy machine manufacturers targeted office purchasing managers, who wanted machines that were large, durable, fast, and required minimal maintenance.
Defying the industry logic, the Japanese company Canon created a blue ocean of new market space by shifting the target customer of the copier industry from corporate purchasers to users. With their small, easy-to-use desktop copiers and printers Canon created new market space by focusing on the key competitive factors that the mass of noncustomers – the secretaries that used copiers – wanted.
By questioning conventional definitions of who can and should be the target buyer, companies can often see fundamentally new ways to unlock value. Path three of blue ocean strategy’s six paths framework pushes companies to look across the chain of buyers in their industry. By shifting focus to a previously overlooked set of buyers, companies can unlock new value and create uncontested market space.