by Ben Perreira

There is something very attractive yet scary about entering a market that has been long monopolized. It is attractive because it can usually be assumed there is demand for more than just what that one organization offers. It is scary because it is hard to tell exactly what that would be, making it likely people will reject it at the outset.

Fox Sports recently launched a 24/7 sports network to compete with ESPN. There are a couple small competitors, but FS1 made a huge splash when it launched last month. As they entered the market they faced a huge challenge: ESPN is all sports fans have known for a long time. If that is true, and if we are used to consuming sports highlights their way, is there a better way to do highlights? That is, will consumers perceive any other way of doing highlights as inferior to ESPN?

I don’t think this is true in the abstract. Of course there is always room for improvement. But we have to throw out purely rational arguments when we’re talking about consumer behavior.

I think one way in for new entrants is to show congruence. Congruence juxtaposes a brand with its competitor then shows how the protagonist brand will do that better. If poorly executed (examples abound, but I’ll refrain) it looks like a straw man argument. If executed correctly if shows how the brand’s offering is better, despite being new and different from what people have always known.