Adam Vasquez

What is Market Invention?

It’s the new era of marketing.

Market Invention is the process of creating and maintaining market dominance by leveraging insight, purpose, position, and experience to establish, grow, and maintain customer and company value.

For years, we’ve been hearing about the death of the ad industry. Whether work is done at an agency or internally, the industry has been organized into three camps. One is focused on a 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. The problem is that the industry has been caught in the weeds chasing shiny objects, and has forgotten the greater goal of marketing: innovate and dominate your market to drive business results. Focusing on experience is no longer enough. Content marketing without a purpose is just noise; performance alone won’t help you establish market leadership.

Let’s take a look at how we got here.

1100 BC: Institutional
Religion and government commission artists to convert 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.

2010 AD: Purpose Driven Market Invention
Consumers expect clear purpose and a strong POV. Industry disruption is driven by business models and ecosystems. Consumers expect experiences across each touch point.




What makes a market inventor? 

Market inventors have the following DNA:

  • Ownership: Clear 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 market 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 brand 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 be a 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. Understand an audience problem or insight representative of a market opportunity you can own within your current industry or a new one. If you don’t do this, 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. It doesn’t matter how much advertising you do, how smart your copy is, or how great your analytics reports are. If you haven’t defined a market 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 is 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. They also 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

About Adam Vasquez

Adam is the President and CEO of Merit, the global leader in market invention. He is known for his ability to create markets for clients. His efforts have not only achieved many accolades, but have also served as an engine for sustained growth, profitability, and mission success for a number of small, medium and large companies.

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