Critical Actions For Driving Profitable Share Growth

Nigel HollisJanuary 21, 20213 min

Growing share, particularly in an established product category, is challenging at the best of times, but it is fundamental to longer-term success. A company needs to at least maintain it is market share or it will not benefit from category and country growth. And growing slower than other brands cedes the advantage of scale, even if your sales are increasing. So while it might seem unrewarding at times, trying to grow share is worth the effort, provided you can do so profitably.

Disruption Creates Big Gains

The early years of any brand are a frenetic attempt to establish a viable user base and work out the kinks in the business model. Growth is everything, either to keep your share as a first mover or establish it as a new entrant. McKinsey finds that for software and online-services companies the growth trajectory is the best predictor of long-term success. Think Amazon, Airbnb or TikTok. But if it has a truly disruptive offer any brand can gain share rapidly, even in established and apparently inactive categories where market share has changed little for years. Think Chobani, Halo Top or Dollar Shave Club.

Start Different, Make It Meaningful And Salient

What is the best form of disruption? Something that the end-consumer perceives to be different from the current offers and which they find functionally and emotionally relevant – in other words, more meaningful. Too many marketers discount the value of perceived differentiation, and yet, when you look at the brands people think are the most disruptive they are also perceived as different. In 2018, an analysis of BrandZ data found that brands that grew over time were seen to be different compared to their competition. However, to grow in the longer-term, both the disruptive and growth brands had to make their difference salient and meaningful to more people.

Marginal Gains Sustain Growth

But what happens when growth begins to taper off? It is time to think about marginal gains, not disruption. Big brands must seek growth wherever they can find it, from cross-selling to existing users, targeting specific segment needs, or from expanding the whole category. But here is the thing, incremental growth requires the same mindset that empowers true disruption; a mindset that questions everything and continuously seeks better ways of doing things.

Growth Is The Result Of A Series Of Inter-Related Actions

Sustained market share growth is rarely the result of any one event or action. Instead, it is the outcome of actions based around the buyer cycle of experience, exposure, and activation. Actions have differing effects and their influence on sales plays out over different time frames, but together they add up to more than the sum of the parts. An update of Kantar’s Mastering Momentum analysis finds that brands which over-performed at experience, exposure and activation grew by an average of 48% over three years.

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