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School of Fish Strategy (SOFS)

Competitive Strategy Mapping


School of Fish Strategy (SOFS) design naturally lends a dynamic multi-pronged competitive positioning with the mass-customized product-market domains. SOFS is a state-of-art design better than a traditional scale-integration aimed at implementing a standardized generic business strategy. With the School of Fish Strategy mode, the value chain is dis-aggregated and dispersed to deliver diverse product-market positioning under each node of the value chain. 


To design a multi-pronged competitive strategy, we need to know how competing brands are positioned on their respective product and market attributes. By mapping the market characteristics, competitors’ product/brand attributes, and the new features that customers would value, a business can formulate a school of fish based multi-pronged competitive strategy – which can match or surpass the competing brands. Or a business can design a strategy that is distinct enough to create new market domains.


A comprehensive competitive strategy mapping can help identify, new possibilities in product innovation, outliers (emerging trends and new attributes that customer prefer), strengths and weaknesses of competing brands. Plotting the competitive strategy map can be done with the data collected from the sales and retail front, focus group interviews or in depth market research.  The scales for plotting the map can be in a standardized format (same format) or in non-similar formats, and the scale-ranges can be specified according to the needs and convenience. Identification of the attributes can be based on sophisticated statistical analyses like multi-dimensional scaling, cluster analysis or simple aggregation of the measures collected from the survey, interviews, or field observations.


Once the right combination or configuration of product/market attributes defined, firm’s value chain, supplier alliances, extent of modularization, location and logistics of production/distribution can be effectively designed. Competitive Strategy Mapping will be helpful in comparing and summarizing the differences across markets and regions.


With a strategy mapping, we can make comparative analysis of make vs buy implications, location decisions, centralization vs dispersion of value chain, transaction cost vs bureaucratic cost of organizing the value chain for each brand or every unique competitive strategy pursued by a firm. Using this tool, a brand/product can be compared not only with competition, but also with substitutes, complementary product/service, across industries. We can identify intangible and tangible augmentation, and knowledge component for further innovation.


A hypothetical SOFS strategy mapping of two competing brands of bicycles is illustrated in the insert as an example. The two brands A and B competing in 2 regions (Georgia & Florida), their respective product-market attributes, and aggregate of attributes (combining 2 regions) are mapped and compared. 


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