Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Weak Is Strong, Zen Paradox For Marketing Strategy

Zen seeks for the ultimate status of mind, which is close to awakening, or Epiphany. It uses a training method to discuss paradox questions. The most famous one is; "Nothing is everything. Everything is nothing." As many of them are highly spiritual, it is a surprise to find a paradox question, which is helpful in the modern daily lives. One of them is; "The strong is weak because of his strength, not because of his weakness. The weak is strong because of his weakness, not because of his strength."

One can prove this statement is true taking an example of Japanese Beer market. A company, who has top market share, should be careful in its strength not weakness to keep the top market share.

Kirin was the top share maker in Japanese beer market about 20 years ago. Kirin had been top share beer maker for about 10 years, then. Their lager beer was so popular that no competition could beat them. Kirin was so proud of their strength in their lager beer. They did not have to bring new products for a long time. The lager beer was Kirin's strength in Japanese beer market. Sapporo was the 2nd market share beer maker. Asahi was the 3rd.

Sapporo took a brave strategy in their effort to gain No.1 position in the beer market. They analyzed Kirin lager and found that they will never defeat Kirin in the beer market. Sapporo threw a stone into the market. They started to market and sell an entirely new product. It was Sapporo Draft Beer. They advertised the weakness of Draft Beer. Sapporo advertisement was; Sapporo Draft is a spoiled and demanding beer. Enjoy its crispy and clear taste during a short time of freshness.

Sapporo attacked Kirin's strength taking advantage of weakness of Sapporo Draft Beer. At that time, Draft Beers were only in the bars and restaurants. People did not believe they could drink Draft Beer home. People jumped into Sapporo Draft. One year later, Sapporo became No. 1 market share Beer Company. The weak defeated the strong by attacking their strength with their weakness.

Several years later, Asahi took the same strategy attacking Sapporo. Asahi came with a new concept of beer, Dry. Asahi's slogan was; it tastes like a beer, you feel like drinking a beer. Their alcohol content was 2% higher than others. Their message was "a real beer for a real beer drinker". Since people started to like lighter alcoholic contents drink, they used reverse marketing to regain the market. Asahi became No. 1 share with Asahi Dry.

Kirin recovered its No. 1 position with a new concept of Draft Beer. That was "Kirin Ichiban". They competed exactly as this old Zen paradox statement. The weak is not weak because of his weakness. The weak can win with his weakness.

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