What is Market Invention?


It’s the fundamental law that fuels the rise and fall of markets.

In practice, Market Invention is the process of creating and maintaining market dominance by leveraging insight, strategy, experience, and expansion to pivot out of the legacy market and into a previously untapped space.

For years, we’ve been hearing about the death of the ad industry. Advertising has been organized into three camps. One is focused on the traditional “big brand” approach. A second is focused on inbound content marketing. A third is focused on performance marketing tactics driven by data and technology.

They’re all missing the point. This is the age of the internet, of online comparison shopping, of brutally honest reviewers. And if you are advertising in a market where you aren’t the leader, you’re really just driving attention to whoever is. The law of Market Invention provides a clear answer to this dilemma: break free from the old market and create a space where you’re number one.

Market Invention is hard work. That’s why most don’t even attempt it. But for the bold few, it’s a revolutionary shift that rejects industry standards in favor of a new way, a market opportunity with the room for growth and adaptability that the current model is missing.

Let’s take a look at how we got here.

1100 BC: Institutional
Religion and government commission artists to sway followers.

1700 AD: Consumer
The first-ever consumer advertisements begin to appear in London newspapers.

1920 AD: Big Brand
The golden age of advertising, with the combination of mass production and mass media. Brands connect consumerism with the pursuit of happiness.

1993 AD: Digital > Social > Content
The first commercial websites are launched via the world wide web.
Consumers have virtually unlimited access to information and choices. Technology allows companies to disrupt industries.

2017 AD: Market Invention
Consumers expect clear purpose and a strong POV with experiences across each touch point. Industry disruption is driven by business models and ecosystems.



Market Invention Process


What makes a market inventor? 

Market inventors have the following DNA:

  • Ownership: Deep understanding and ownership of the problem or insight.
  • Purpose: Define a true purpose or north star that addresses the problem or insight.
  • Delivery: Revolutionary model, products, and services that can scale.
  • Experience: Transformational experience through action and communication.
  • Ecosystem: Aligning and empowering people and organizations to support the new market.

Market inventor examples:

What are the advantages of being a market inventor?
Market inventors control more than 90% of the markets they invent and account for much of Fortune 100 growth.



Fortune 100 list of fastest-growing companies (Harvard Business Review, 2013)

Are market design and Market Invention the same thing?
Yes and no. Market design stops at the research and strategy phase. Market Invention includes market design and then goes beyond to include the launch of the experience.


Can you dominate a market with a small budget?
Yes, and Market Invention is especially important to those who don’t have large budgets. This process ensures that every dollar and minute you spend have a well-defined purpose and move you one step closer to market ownership.


Is Market Invention only for start-up companies?
No, it is for all stages of a brand’s lifecycle. If you are a start-up, you need to invent a market you can own, or you’ll become just another “me-too” in a sea of competitors.


If my company is already the leader, why do I still need Market Invention?
Market Invention is critical for defending and expanding your market. For defense, you need to ensure you keep re-defining the industry to keep you on top and prevent your competition from inventing a new market that shifts your industry and steals the lead—think Blockbuster vs. Netflix. For expanding your market, this means ensuring your universal purpose and values can evolve beyond existing technologies. Think GoPro: it’s a leader in action cameras, but now needs to expand as it has been defined by a product that can’t grow beyond its niche.


What if I’m a challenger brand in the industry?
You need to shift the industry to your point-of-view and advocate it. Address a consumer pain-point. Use a unique insight to uncover market opportunity in the current industry—or a new one. If you don’t, you will always be second, third, fourth, or twelfth in your industry.


Isn’t this just good marketing?
Yes and no. Marketing has become just tactical advertising, slick copywriting, and overdone analytics. But it doesn’t matter how much advertising you do, how cute your copy is, or how great your analytics reports are. If you haven’t defined a market that you can own and sell as the best and only solution, no amount of money you throw at generating more awareness or customer leads will help. Brand experience and content marketing are powerful tools, but without a clear, focused effort to own your market, they will not lead to Market Invention. Of course, there are some great examples of successful brand campaigns, but more often than not, they fall short of achieving market leadership and delivering true business success.


My advertising is working great—I get a ton of leads and sales.
That’s great, but I’m guessing that your lead conversion is weak if you’re not the leader. Why? Because customers are coming to you and seeing that you’re a me-too brand in your industry. I’ll bet you’re winning business because you’re cheaper or the leader’s customer experience sucks. If either is true, maybe there’s an opportunity to raise your game in a market that doesn’t have a clear owner or invent a new market.


What are the results if I decide to shift to Market Invention?
On average, market leaders own 90% market share of the market they invent. They also have the largest margins and the lowest cost of sale. And they outlast the competition with the highest dollar valuation.


What if follow-the-leader is my strategy?
Good luck to you – that works for Samsung, and the minute they stop out-spending the competition in advertising or discounting products, we will forget them. That’s especially true on mobile devices.


Does Market Invention include advertising, PR, digital, and customer experience?
Yes. After you design the market, you have to communicate it through paid, earned, owned, and shared media across all customer, media, and employee experiences. Market Invention is a complete skill set—from designing the market to promoting and communicating the brand.


Additional Resources