That was then, but this is now. New times call for new brands and services.
What is it challenging?
The relevance of the Market Leader (and perhaps every other existing player in the market) to the modern world, or to the current generation.
Why does its consumer respond to it?
‘New times call for new brands, and I as a person am part of the new times’.
Scott Keogh, CMO of Audi America
The Next Generation Challenger challenges the appropriateness of the establishment brand for the times we live in today. It challenges the relevance of the past to a new world.
It may be thought that positioning oneself as ‘the Next Generation’ is simply an executional tactic, not really meriting a place in any kind of overview of challenger strategic narratives at all. But there are specific circumstances which can make this a very strong strategic option for an aspirant challenger.
So we might see challengers looking to use this kind of positioning to profit from, and perhaps accelerate, underlying improvements in its performance as well as shifts in the market context. Eurostar’s move to high speed trains allowed it to position itself against the airlines as ‘the future of European Travel’, through the combination of improved travel times as well as a lower carbon footprint.
Or sometimes the market leader is so popular that one may not be able to challenge it directly head on. Silk Soymilk, for instance, effectively taking on milk itself in the US, faced the problem that this was not a market leader that consumers wanted to see deposed: people love milk (whatever science might say is in it). One can try to reframe and deposition milk in all kinds of ways, but consumers don’t want to hear it criticised directly. So adopting this kind of ‘next generation’ challenger narrative – being ‘the new milk’ – was a natural one for Silk to adopt at the time.
In the same way in Asia, where status is prized, and very often the Market Leader admired and valued precisely because it is Market Leader, it may be very difficult to take on that Market Leader directly. Far better to implicitly suggest the Establishment Leader is a fine thing – but for the previous generation of needs, or lifestyle, of people; then adopt a ‘Next Generation’ narrative, and as the challenger, deposition it without overt criticism.
By elegantly positioning the incumbent as perfect for a time gone by, but being clear that time has now gone, the Challenger can position itself as a brand for those wanting to be part of a new generation. That was then, this challenger says, but this is now; new times and a new cohort call for new brands that truly reflect them – and we are one of those.