'Purple' Ocean Strategy

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Blue Ocean Strategy > Best Practices > 'Purple' Ocean Strategy

'Purple' Ocean Strategy
Andrew Nelson, CEO, Australia, SIG Leader
If there are shallow, boiling, highly competitive, bloody RED oceans, and there are deep, calm, clear BLUE oceans of untapped opportunity, are there also "PURPLE" - less competitive - oceans in between?
And do you always have to make your way through purple oceans to get to red ones? Or can you leap straight from red to blue, and back?
Your opinions please...

The Possibility of Purple Ocean Strategies
Fabiyi Olawale, ICT Consultant, Nigeria, Member
Is there such a thing as a purple ocean strategy? Talking about purple, first and foremost we need to understand that BOS is all about creating value for both the firm and customer.
- Value for customers could be lower price, quality and the likes.
- Value for the firm comes in form of profits and overall reduction in business process cost.
If we have a purple strategy as you described, then proponents of blue ocean cannot come into play as blue ocean is about an uncontested marketspace and purple means a bit of competition. It is noteworthy that in BOS, we do not benchmark competitors and the only way to swim directly from red to blue oceans is via innovation. Not just any kind of innovation, but innovation for the now.
Furthermore every blue ocean becomes red over time, because when other firms see an innovative product or any product doing very well, they'll want a piece of the cake. So the blue ocean of uncontested market space becomes bloody red ocean.
Finally ROS is about SURVIVING in the market while BOS is about THRIVING there.

Strategic Markets are Placed in a Continuum
VENKATESH, Manager, India, Member
Andrew. Thanks for the insight. I believe that the classifications of markets we talk about are basically in a continuum. All that matters is, in what position we are and what are we looking for.
Moreover our classification is never and can never be with any clearly drawn lines. The market / markets are fuzzy and when we look from the top we may be able to spot some areas which are conducive to our purpose. So oceans may be blue or purple or red.

Oceans of Many Colours and Sizes too
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Again, the scenery is being muddied by over complication. With the development of a rainbow of coloured oceans, we will end up with bespoke oceans to meet the specific requirements of each and every hue, thereby defeating the original purpose and negating the value of the original message.
To move my argument further, surely the size is as important as the colour - this will lead to descriptions of extent based on stretches of water - lakes, isthmuses (try verbalising that), seas, oceans and even dams (caused by human interference) and eventually the traditional mud puddle, in which many businesses move. End is not in sight!

ROS and BOS are Metaphors for Strategy Types
Khalil Ahmed Arbi, Consultant, Pakistan, Member
The name of any strategy on the name of a color is actually a management metaphor for an action plan and implementation of the strategy. As far as ROS and BOS are concerned we can agree that both give new action oriented implementation plan in a specific environment.
How about purple ocean strategy? What sort of action plan this gives? What Andrew has said is just explanation of a given situation which is less competitive. In such a less competitive situation, you need a set of strategies from the domain of either BOS or ROS. Then is there any real need of a new metaphor?

Purple Ocean Sillyness
Ted Garrison, Management Consultant, United States, Member
@Khalil Ahmed Arbi: Exactly. BOS & ROS are metaphors. That doesn't make for a metaphor in between them. There is no need for a false metaphor of mediocrity.

Integrated Business Strategy
Thamsanqa Zembe, Manager, South Africa, Member
To be quite honest it must be the first time I hear about POS and its quite interesting how you guys are interpreting and analysing it. Being an MBA student with Integrated Business Strategy being the module I am currently pursuing, I will definitely read more on this and use it in my assignment as my focus was only going to be on ROS and BOS. Thanks guys.

POS in Practice
Hussein ElBehery, Business Consultant, Egypt, Member
I see it as a quite practical approach for developing a company's strategy. In my experience, more than 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry, it is sometimes difficult to put a clear red OR blue strategy. Very much linked to the market dynamics and your growth drivers. So, Purple Ocean strategy could indeed be helpful to think it over as an alternative strategy.

Metaphors About ROS and BOS
Joan Pedrol, Consultant, Spain, Member
I totally agree with @Khalil Ahmed Arbi. I do not think that it's is working to create a new metaphor to add to the ROS concepts and BOS.
For me the basic differences may come from the size and the competitive game that use to identify a BOS. The possible market potential and competitive framework BOS gives us the degree to decide if we approach it or not.
I perceive it as a matter of degree. I would agree that a BOS is condemned to be POS before becoming ROS. Hence the "fun" of strategy. Greetings and thank you all.

Other Strategy Colours
rafael angel calvo arguedas, Business Consultant, Member
To relate business dynamics with certain colors is relative. I would personally choose other colors. For example: In the initial stage of the company I would choose the color "red". This means that I am facing a big challange. As years pass by I can choose the color "purple" which gives me encouragement as I hope to finally meet and reach my goal. Upon reaching my goal I would choose a "white" color, that gives me peace, relaxation and appreciation. These colors as such represent for me the different stages of entrepreneurship. But I recommend not copying ideas but to create them through the deep analysis of each business reality.

Deep Purple Strategy :)
Sergio, Consultant, Russian Federation, Member
It is a vivid visual metaphor which seems to be close to poetry, but actually it turns to be rather prosaic. Surely there are purple oceans in between, and the best surfing is just there.

Competiton is not Black and White (Red and Blue)
Andrew Nelson, CEO, Australia, SIG Leader
Thank you all for your comments.
My purpose was not to create a new "purple ocean strategy" but to gather views.
My own experience is that not all applications of Blue Ocean Strategy immediately identify a blue ocean, but maybe a better red one to begin with, which may help the business to eventually find a true blue ocean.
But let's be realistic, in blue ocean terms, even those operating in the untapped market face competition from inferior offerings, and substitutes and alternatives.
Yellow Tail converted non-wine drinkers but they still compete with other non-wine beverages, and once converted to being a wine drinker, the Yellow Tail customers look for other wines they might like. Cirque Du Soleil still competes with other forms of entertainment. And no-one extra started using Insulin just because Novo invented the Insulin pen.
It may not help to refer to them long term as "purple" but people need to realise that they might not "shoot the lights with their first attempt.

Strategies of Many Colours
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Further to my offering above I wish to make the following points:
1. Businesses operates in a constantly changing environment, as should strategy;
2. Effective strategy addresses the medium to long term future of a business, which means an essential element must be change/flexibility; and
3. With the foregoing points in mind, both BOS and ROS are, in my opinion, fatally flawed as they should each form one aspect of an effective strategy and not a strategic viewpoint per se.
An old military adage of "hope for the best and plan for the worst" applies?

No Pure Blue or Red Oceans Exist
Mihai Ionescu, Business Consultant, Romania, Member
In reality, there is no pure Red Ocean or pure Blue Ocean. In each Red Ocean, there is product innovation that reduces the competitive pressure and in each Blue Ocean there is a certain degree of competition, which evolves over time.
The BOS comes with a set of principles that, if apllied correctly, may produce a value proposition that is faced with less or - ideally - no competition.
In conclusion, each Red Ocean or Blue Ocean is in fact purple, at some extent, or may become so, sooner or later.

Purple Ocean Strategy
Tholen, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
Fully agree: The whole idea of BOS is creating value with new uncontested market approaches, services, products.
And yes: overtime most or all Blue Oceans will migrate via Purple into Red Oceans.

Competition is not Black & White (Red & Blue)
Hussein ElBehery, Business Consultant, Egypt, Member
@Andrew Nelson: Thanks for your comments. I fully agree that you might start with ROS which could be followed by BOS.
The opposite could also happen. In both scenarios, watching the different competitive driving forces carefully will be important to move on.

Competition Takes Place in a Continuous Spectrum
Ted Garrison, Management Consultant, United States, Member
Strategy isn't about ROC or BOC - they are merely a metaphor for a highly competitive marketplace and a place without competition. The business world is a continuous spectrum - not a two points.
In markets that have too much competition because the company's can't differentiate themselves - their profitability suffers and it becomes a bloody mess. In contrast, those companies that can differentiate their services from their competition minimize their competition and as result become more profitable.
Regardless of what title or image you want to create - all successful business strategies are about differentiating ones service.
If you can't differentiate your service from your competitor - then customers will buy the lower priced. If you are higher priced, you need to be able to justify the higher price in the customers mind or they will select the lower priced because it's perceived a better value.

Market Based Strategies
S.Karthi, Management Consultant, Brunei Darussalam, Member
A marketplace is where buyers and sellers meet. Demand and supply usually determines the business strategies contributing to competition. A firm can observe or practice ROS to secure and increase market share while BOS creates new market shares.

In my opinion, POS exists in cartel business environment where firms try to reduce competition and just maintain their market share or profit. If cartels are a legally approved practice than a firm just thrives in POS.
However, in a competitive business environment I believe ROS predominantly prevails especially where markets are not regulated a lot.

In a new or regulated market BOS and/or POS can temporarily prevail due to reduced competition, but ROS eventually applies with or without barriers being dismantled due to apparent competition between the few firms. The type of strategy companies may adopt depends on the market environment, where they want to enter or continue business based on their strength, weakness, opportunities and threats. Thus, I believe, a company can apply any one of the 3 strategies in time with or without applying a transitional POS.

Purple Ocean Strategy
Goran Flodin, Manager, Sweden, Member
I don't think that purple ocean strategy would add any value to this subject. Why discover something in between the blue and red?

Keep Aiming for BOS
Ben Smith, Manager, United Kingdom, Member
If BOS is aiming for the optimum value position, then POS has no place in setting strategy as it suggests a half-hearted effort is acceptable. It may however have some use in a strategy or project review as suggesting that further change is needed to reach Blue Ocean.

Blue, Red and Relevant
Dr. Luis De La Cruz, Professor, United States, Member
Some authors argue that discussions about strategy by default engage any form of competitive missions geared to build advantages. But breakthrough innovation does not involve competing, rather making other market participants irrelevant in the new market space, which some may call a Blue Ocean.
In the Innovators Dilemma Christensen presents disruptive innovations as a potential threat to blue ocean leading navigators by a product targeted to other than blue ocean incumbents' customers with slightly different needs; being disruptive with a lower price and less performance in functionality leaving little or no margin to providers.
Because incumbents can not compete at low margins and disappoint their high-paying customers; disruptive innovators advance navigating in their other than blue or red ocean toward growth ports.
Eventually, the incumbent leadership disrupts its own mix to jump into the ocean of disruptive innovators before it turns red to become relevant.

The Possibility of Purple Ocean Strategy
Gandhi Heryanto, Management Consultant, Indonesia, Premium Member
The Blue Ocean is opposed to the Red Ocean of competition in well established markets where optimization and distinction on well understood, standardized criteria matter.
A blue ocean stands for a new market created by businesses where there are no predefined standards, no predefined audience, where no industrial feet have yet been placed; in short the sought after space where there is no competition, where huge fortunes can be made.
One of the conceptual tools put forward by Blue Ocean Strategy, is that one has to create a new value curve.
The purple ocean strategy is not such a blue one by creating a new standard, but by adopting the current and adding one thing that had been missing from it.
An illustration of a successful purple ocean player is Android. Android entered the red ocean of smartphones, but interestingly did this with open source systems and bundled with other Google products. Today Android holds a 80% share of the smartphone market. All manufacturers can use the Android OS, and are not subject to licensing fees from Google. All Google's services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google have been bundled in the OS. Consumers do not have to bother with the expensive price of Android, even cheap smartphones get the same service.

Fatally Flawed Blue Ocean Strategy?
Andrew Nelson, CEO, Australia, SIG Leader
@Andrew Blaine: Andrew I am very interested to hear more about why you think Blue Ocean Strategy is a fatally flawed strategic viewpoint. Genuinely interested.

But Isn't Going Purple Better Than Staying Red?
Andrew Nelson, CEO, Australia, SIG Leader
@Goran Flodin: my point here is that some businesses don't seem to quite find the blue ocean, but they will still be better off pursuing the "less red" ocean they find.

No Use for Purple Ocean Strategy
Steen Sloth, Professor, Denmark, Member
@Goran Flodin: I agree here. BOS and ROS are better understood in their pure form, and if a BOS company is succesful, its marketplace will over time become ROS, because competitors will learn from and try to imitate your succes. I can't see that POS will make any strategic thoughts more clear.

Perfect Red and Perfect Blue Oceans
Andrew Nelson, CEO, Australia, SIG Leader
I think many people here miss the point. It is not that one would purposefully set out to create a "purple" strategy.
But rather, if you cannot find the Blue Ocean Strategy, but you can find one that is "less red" (ie purple), do you execute and keep working on it, or do you procrastinate until you develop the perfect Blue Ocean Strategy?
And if you do wait, who can say that their Blue Ocean Strategy is perfect before it is executed? It still may end up being just "less red" and not the blue ocean you had thought was there.

In Reality there are no Red and Blue Oceans - Only Purple Ones
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
At 12manage we're learning, discussing and applying strategic models that are simplifications of a complex reality. We do this because it's our BEST OPTION to deal with this reality, even while we KNOW that the real world is not as simple as the models we use.
For example, one might say that in reality:
- There are no 100% blue oceans. To mention just one thing, even a very innovative company with a superb new idea will still have to consider that in the future competitors are going to show up. So in reality, there's never the complete strategic freedom which the term BOS suggests...
- There are also no 100% red oceans. Even in a very bloody, red ocean with tough competition on price, companies will still try to develop some feature to set it apart from competitors (even if just an imaginary one such as we often see in consumer marketing.
- There are many more dimensions to consider in strategy besides the contradiction: 'compete in existing market space' versus 'create uncontested market space'.

But that doesn't mean there's no value in having these two models/terms to describe the extremes of an important strategic spectrum and to help companies make thoughtful, necessary strategic choices.
What it does mean is that in our enthusiasm about the great tools we possess, we should not make the mistake to think that the reality is actually as our models describe them. Especially for a metaphorical tool as BOS/ROS, which is aimed at making us understand and explore the extremes of a spectrum of strategic environments and strategic choices.

So in my opinion, to use the term 'Purple Ocean' and 'Purple Ocean Strategy' now and then can be quite useful as a HEALTHY REMINDER not to make that mistake.

Red and Blue - It's Sound Like a Fight
Ted Garrison, Management Consultant, United States, Member
@ Andrew - right on! I don't think anyone tries to create a ROS on purpose, but many fall into it because they don't understand how or why they must differentiate themselves. BOS is the perfect solution, obviously difficult to obtain, but that doesn't mean we don;t want to move away from ROS as much as possible and toward a BOS. The closer we get to BOS the better off a company will be. So it's not that we are trying to create a POS, but we are trying for constant improvement to the perfect BOS.
@Jaap I agree there are many dimensions to strategy - BOS is merely a metaphor for eliminating competition. The trick is how does one differentiate themselves - that list and the processes to do that are almost endless.
True there are no completely red markets, but there are red businesses - meaning they're doing exactly the same thing their competitors are doing. There is no differentiation and the result is they must compete totally on price. Some actually have differences but don't explain it.

Purple is a Junction between the Red and Blue
kashif, Manager, Pakistan, Member
I agree with Andrew that we can grasp the opportunities in red oceans through using the junction of purple ocean strategy. That is really a way of adapting to a less competitive atmosphere of marketing.

Avoid Moving from Blue to Red
antonio gonzalez, Professor, United States, Member
@Mihai Ionescu: Agree with your logic, blue eventually becomes red. It is the goal of a good strategy to remain 'as blue as possible' through innovation and differentiation.
A good strategy deals with all tones of purple all the time and is ready to find opportunities and create advantages on every point.

Using ROS for Competitive Advantage
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Antonio gonzalez: I feel that it is unwise to eliminate ROS alltogether, simply because it exists. There are a number of instances where a Red Ocean scenario can be used to the advantage of additional entry resulting from an opening arising from the Red ocean status. That is often a real opportunity, particularly when the fighting overlooks a small niche?

Purple Ocean, Shades/Degrees of Competitive Pressures
Farooq Omar, Business Consultant, Pakistan, Member
I have been doing a lot of work and am a fan of BOS related concepts. Worked and shared and learn't a lot from people like Dear Rod. What I eventually came to the conclusion is, all color/shadows pertaining to Blue are simply a degree of competitive intensity.
Within the process of retaining or overcoming the competition, the 'crisis' points move back and forth, and it is also true while trying to defend or sustain your 'leverage' over others. The shadows and tints reflect the competitive and non competitiveness pressures and status, its like a 'Radar' of your performance success, and help to develop new tools and frameworks to offset these incoming 'threats'.
If, they are carefully reevaluated and adjusted through change in the value enablers and associated components of the set of objectives within a strategy, then barometers reflects a safer heaven, getting into a bluer tint of the intended blue! Rgds.

Blue Ocean Monopolies
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Jaap de Jonge (Editor): The closest one can come to finding a blue ocean is in the case of a monopolistic business. This applies particularly in "Utilities" operations where competition is limited or totally non-existent.

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