The three tiers of noncustomers is an analytic framework developed by Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne to help companies gain insight into the latent demand they can tap into to create blue oceans. Typically, to grow their share of a market, companies strive to retain and expand their existing customer base.

Although the universe of noncustomers typically offers blue ocean opportunities, few companies have keen insight into who noncustomers are and how to unlock them. To convert this huge latent demand into real demand in the form of new customers, companies need to deepen their understanding of the universe of noncustomers.

Customers of your industry
“Soon-to-be” noncustomers who are on the edge of your market waiting to jump ship
“Refusing” noncustomers who consciously choose against your market
“Unexplored” noncustomers who are in markets distant from yours

© Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne. All rights reserved.

The first tier of noncustomers is closest to the current market, sitting just on the edge. They are buyers who minimally purchase an industry’s offering out of necessity but are mentally noncustomers of the industry.

The second tier of noncustomers is people who refuse to use an industry’s offering. These are buyers who have seen the current offering as an option to fulfill their needs but have decided against participating.

The third tier of noncustomers is farthest from the market. They are noncustomers who have never considered the market’s offering as an option.

By focusing on key commonalities across these noncustomers and existing customers, companies can understand how to pull them into their new market.

Three Tiers of Noncustomers Example

Customers First? How About Noncustomers First?

Why you need to identify the demand that exists beyond your industry

How to Create Your Blue Ocean Through Noncustomer Analysis

Discover how to reach beyond your existing industry's customers.
      Blue Ocean Sprint


      Learn how to leave the competition behind. Discover how to create a new market space while lowering your costs, fast.

      ‚ÄúLOVED this course. No nonsense, 100% practical tools I can start implementing TODAY in my organisation!‚ÄĚ Amalia C., Google

      Join thousands of leaders like you who are creating innovative companies, products, and services that stand out from the crowd.


      Blue Ocean Strategy Practitioner Program

      Transform your strategic perspective, master blue ocean tools and frameworks, & learn to unlock new growth opportunities

      Get started with new market creation with our live, interactive, expert-led program.