Iconic Freeway: This is
another critical founda-
tion for preventing com-
moditization. One of the
most counterintuitive of
the six disciplines, this requires brands
to avoid mass distribution during their
incubation phase. This avoids: (a)
head-to-head competition with bigger
brands, (b) delisting pressure due to
low velocities from powerful retailers,
(c) margin pressure from copycats.
But the benefits go far beyond avoid-
ing these pitfalls. Stronger and deeper
user relationships get formed away
from crowds of competitors. This is a
disruptive route to the traditional
model of distribution and expansion.
Red Bull gained a cult following by
going through nightclubs, rather than
through convenience stores where
Coca-Cola or Pepsico would have
stomped them out.
Purposeful Route to Market: By virtue of not having existing infra-
structure, these entrepreneurs had to create their own route to mar-
ket and thus developed the infrastructure that best met their
brands’ purpose and the needs of their Iconic Freeway. Red Bull’s
nightclub distribution and marketing set-up is still, decades later,
the envy of Coke and Pepsi. Large corporations kill a lot of innovative products by
forcing them through existing sales and distribution channels that were designed
for scale not incubation. Disciplines four and five need to be executed in tan-
dem—you can rarely use a new route-to-market to go to existing channels, be-
cause your existing distributors will complain. You can also rarely use existing
distributors to go to new channels—they don’t have the economic flexibility.
Overcoming these barriers is possible, but it requires a high degree of creativity
and negotiating skills to create win-win strategies. Large companies find this disci-
pline the hardest to execute, primarily because of internal pressure to avoid up-
setting the apple cart. Unfortunately, if you don’t do what’s required to disrupt a
category, somebody else will.
Thinking Like An Iconic Entrepreneur
When it comes to applying the six disciplines and creating resilient brands, especially in the natural and organic category, Jatar insists that small visionary companies may have a distinct advantage over established monolithic corporations.
“Typically, large corporations are weighed down by deeply ingrained organizational processes and hierarchies,” he explains. “The standard processes that are
with you at the bench.
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