Blue Ocean Strategic Moves

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil took the world by storm. It created a blue ocean of new market space. Its blue ocean strategic move challenged the conventions of the circus industry. Cirque’s productions have been seen by more than 150 million spectators in more than 300 cities around the world. In less than twenty years since its creation, Cirque du Soleil achieved a level of revenues that took Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey—the once global champion of the circus industry—more than one hundred years to attain.

What makes this rapid growth all the more remarkable is that it was not achieved in a declining industry in which traditional strategic analysis pointed to limited potential for growth. Supplier power on the part of star performers was strong. So was buyer power. Alternative forms of entertainment —ranging from various kinds of urban live entertainment to sporting events to home entertainment—cast an increasingly long shadow. Children cried out for video games rather than a visit to the travelling circus. Partially as a result, the industry was suffering from steadily decreasing audiences and, in turn, declining revenue and profits. There was also increasing sentiment against the use of animals in circuses by animal rights groups. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey set the standard, and competing smaller circuses essentially followed with scaled-down versions. From the perspective of competition-based strategy, the circus industry appeared unattractive.

Another compelling aspect of Cirque du Soleil’s success is that it did not win by taking customers from the already shrinking circus industry, which historically catered to children. Instead it created uncontested market space that made the competition irrelevant. It appealed to a whole new group of customers: adults and corporate clients prepared to pay a price several times as great as traditional circuses for an unprecedented entertainment experience. Significantly, one of the first Cirque productions was titled “We Reinvent the Circus.”

Cirque du Soleil succeeded because it realized that to win in the future, companies must stop competing in red oceans. Instead they should create blue oceans of uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. An in-depth case study on Cirque du Soleil’s blue ocean strategic move can be accessed here.

Blue ocean strategy is based on over decade-long study of more than 150 strategic moves spanning more than 30 industries over 100 years. The research of W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne focused on discovering the common factors that lead to the creation of blue oceans and the key differences that separate those winners from the mere survivors and those adrift in the red ocean.

The database and research have continued to expand and grow over the last ten years since the first edition of the book was published and the strategic moves we studied depict similar patterns, whether blue oceans were created in for-profit industries, non-profit organizations, or the public sector.

Here are a few examples of blue ocean strategic moves from a variety of different industries and sectors. Select from the icons below to learn more.

    Bloomberg Financial News Case Study
    Canon Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Cemex Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Cirque du Soleil Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Curves Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Ford Model T Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    iTunes Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    JCDeaux Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    NetJets Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Novo Nordisk Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    New York Police Department Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Peirce College Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Philips Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    QBHouse Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Quicken Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Polo Ralph Lauren Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Viagra Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study