Sustaining Competitive Advantage – Part 2

This is Part 2/3 of this article

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The following are Bowman’s five-generic competitive strategy options and examples of organizations who applied them to gain competitive advantage: no frills strategy, low price strategy, hybrid strategy, focused differentiation strategy and added value or differentiation strategy.


In brief, a no frills strategy combines a low price, low perceived added value and targets a price-sensitive market. No frills strategy is now a popular strategy with low-cos airlines Easy Jet and Ryanair seeking to enter the airline industry to compete with likes of Virgin and is a determinant in the market. This, therefore, affords the firm the needed competitive edge over its competitors who charge higher price. This strategy is a success because there could possibly be a segment of the market that overlooks the low quality of the commodity provided it fulfills the same purpose.

To obtain the competitive advantage using no fills strategy revenues must increase and the product must really be price-sensitive. Easy Jet frills strategy seems to be going on well as a result of the cost savings techniques they are using. For instance no ticketing, no ticket agents, no in-flight food or drink for customers as well as the short-haul flight. Now, almost all supermarkets in the UK use no frills strategy by introducing own brands the price of which have been reduced to attract customers in order to gain a competitive advantage.


The next generic strategy is the low price strategy. This strategy pursues a lower price than pertains in the market whilst trying to maintain similar value of product or service as those offered by competitor alike. There is the potential of price war among competitors and in the long run consumers are likely to lose as the firms might not be able to sustain the lower-price-good-value strategy. Notwithstanding the price war and low margins, there are some suggested ways in which a low-priced strategy can bring about a firms competitive advantage. The market segment must be low-price sensitive, and also the SBU has a cost advantage over its competitors.

However, in practice, the lower price strategy usually brought about by lowering operational cost alone does not give the firm the competitive advantage if the firm is not able to sustain it in the long-term as there are now more firms entering the market because of low or no entry barriers like small capital requirements and also how efficient the staff might be.


Hybrid competitive strategy seeks to achieve differentiation and a price lower than that of competitors simultaneously. This is not an easy strategy to pursue because to differentiate a product or service involves some money and increases cost the very thing the low price seeks to reduce. This strategy is fit for the DIY industry as the likes of Robert Dyas are not able to stand the competition. The success of this is dependent on providing unique more efficient products or services to consumers whilst at the same time operating at a lower cost to be able to lower its price below the industry level. The success of this strategy could further be enhanced if the firm has economies of scale and can increase volume of sales more than its competitors, thereby, reducing its base cost as a result. Asda’s George brand is an example of a generic hybrid strategy in a SBU.


Another strategy is differentiation strategy. This seeks to provide products or services completely different from those of its competitors by adding features valued by consumers. The main objective of using this is to either maintain the market share or increase market share relative to its competitors. A clear example of this is aircraft manufacturer Airbus’s wider fuselages, cockpits designed for use in more than one aircraft and electrical rather than mechanical flight controls.

Those features have helped Airbus win customers like New York-based Jet blue; although Jet Blue is staffed with former employees from Boeing. (Fortune, Europe Edition 22 November 17th 2003; pp34) This strategy could be used to achieve a competitive advantage which is its ultimate aim by the firm investing more in R&D, unique designs and features. The marketing-based approaches in terms of good marketing communication (example advertising the products or services) as well as the brand power to win the loyalty of consumers. (Example Airbus)


The fifth generic competitive strategy is the focused differentiation strategy which seeks to provide high perceived value; justifying a substantial price premium usually to a selected market, segment. It is usually adopted to counter or to compete others in seemingly similar segment. This could therefore be argued that focused differentiation is just an extension of any of the four strategies so far considered depending on the competitors in this new segment which is usually middle to high income earners. A convincing example is the introduction of Lexus in 1989 by Toyota to compete with other luxury brands of BMW and Mercedes Benz new series.

For the focused differentiation strategy to be used to obtain a competitive advantage over competitors in the industry, the business unit must find ways to make the production more efficient to be able to pass on the savings to customers. The business unit must identify new segments and must also be prepared to aggressively create new market segment where it is believed first movers get huge advantage. Again Toyota prides itself in this by being the first to introduce a brand,scion,specifically for young buyers in January, 2003 which was a success and the introduction of hybrids in 1997 selling 127,000 far more than Honda.( Hybrid uses two engines and is environmentally friendly.) (Fortune, Europe Edition, Number 24 December 22 2003; pp57).


Continue to Part 3/3


Source by John Whonderr-Arthur, Ph.D. Esq

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