Disruption is a word used excessively in the business world. So what exactly is disruption? It was Clayton Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” 1997 that first put forward the idea of “disruptive innovation”. He used this term to consider successful companies as those that did not just fulfill the existing needs of the customers, but also predicted their unexpressed or future needs. His theory was helpful in explaining how small companies that had very few resources managed to enter the market and displace the well-set system.
In 2015, Christensen stated in the Harvard Business Review that a disruptive business possibly starts by either fulfilling the needs of the less-demanding customers, or by creating a market that was non-existent earlier. Hence, disruption occurs when the mainstream customers extensively start accepting the products of the new entrants.
Disruptors often take a lot of time to have a significant impact in their respective industries. In addition, a disruptor’s model can be completely different from what is already available in the market; hence, it can be difficult to view a disruptor in its initial stages. Most of these companies are not really trying to be disruptors; rather, they are just trying to offer a valuable product or service. Their business plan is found to be disruptive only with the passage of time when they frequently manage to change a whole industry.
For example, think of Netflix. At the start, Blockbuster thought that the service was not required. They questioned why anyone would wait for DVDs in their mail when they could just go to the store and get them. Blockbuster failed to understand what the future of watching movies would be like. It didn’t realize that the next phase of home entertainment would be streaming, and this brought about its decline. Blockbuster was unaware of the threat posed by Netflix till it launched its streaming services, because of which it became extremely popular. It was too late for Blockbuster to do anything by that time. Currently, the value of Netflix is in billions of dollars, while Blockbuster is bankrupt.
Therefore, it is critical to understand how a brand can cause disruption. What is important is to make sure that they create lifetime loyalty within their customers. One needs to anticipate the needs, as well as the changing needs of their customers, which will automatically lead to innovation and disruption.