Disrupting the same old process to allow for the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, articulated needs, or existing market needs.

First what is Disruptive Innovation?

The term ‘Disruptive Innovation’ was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995. The definition on Wikipedia states that:

“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.”

Disruptive innovations have a tendency to to be developed by outsiders and entrepreneurs, rather than established market-leading companies. A disruptive process can take longer to develop and the risk associated to it is higher than the other more incremental forms of innovations, but once it is deployed in the market, it reaches a much faster diffusion and higher degree of impact on the established markets. The market leaders usually do not pursue disruptive innovations when they first come out on the market, because they are not profitable enough at first and because their development can take limited resources away from continuing to support innovations that are needed to survive the current competition.

Examples of disruptive innovation:

  • Transportation:

Automobiles: Invention of automobiles and the impact of the lower priced Ford Model T in 1908. Before 1908, automobiles were seen as luxury items and did not disrupt the horse-drawn vehicles. The invention of a mass produced lower priced vehicle was a key disruptor to the common norm of personal transportation via horse.

  • Data Storage:

From CDs to USB to cloud storage. All of these were forms of disruption to the data storage industry. From 8 inch floppy disk drives to now automatic backing up cloud storage, data storage has vastly changed over the past 25 years.

Second what is disruptive marketing?

Disruptive marketing is looking at emerging markets and the changing landscape of communicating to the customer at the right time and place. While disruptive innovation tends to be more a disruption is more a business model than a marketing plan. Most companies still tend to market through traditional channels, which creates opportunities for competing companies to disrupt current messages. Due to a crowded market place, consumers have become resilient to ever-changing messages. A company’s product or service must continue to innovate and pay close attention to consumers, delivering exactly what the market wants.

For instance, a disruptive marketing strategy in a large company has one of two goals:

Re-shape an existing product or service to meet the growing demands of customers unfulfilled by the current selection.


Find an emerging market and develop its product or service to match the demand of an emerging market,

Then a marketing team than designs an advertising campaign with disruptive messages that either challenge the conventional thinking in an existing market or tell a new one.

Common Traits of Disruptive Marketing:

  • It is Approachable and it is about conversations, not narratives

Disruptive marketing usually speaks in a way that consumers can understand. How do we speak and have a conversation with our patients? Our customers? How do we have a dialogue that is meaningful?

  • It’s Affordable and can be a simple message

Disruptive marketing doesn’t have to have a lot of spend in order to be effective. It just has to change how we think, even if it is a little step.

  • It does the unexpected – Think about how people misbehave along the customer journeys

We all were taught about the marketing funnel leads to a sale but we have misunderstood how people misbehave in the tunnel and come in and out of the funnel in our fast-paced interconnected culture.

Disruption is not always centered on technology, but technology is basically the platform used to transport the experience.


Large companies still can benefit greatly from disruptive marketing in a crowded market place. It is never too late to compile a team that is not afraid to take calculated risks and deploy new platforms to reach customers. What are analytics saying? Where is the customer dropping off? What message would be effective?

Even in a highly-regulated industry such as pharma there is still room to be disruptive and find a message that not only works with the medical and legal teams but also is meaningful with the customer.