Here’s a statistic to think about: If you get blindsided, there is more than a 25% likelihood that it will be by a non-traditional competitor.

So, what are the key differences between traditional and non-traditional competitors?

Traditional – Been in business for a number of years, generate high market awareness with an infrastructure to support a dominant market share.

Non-traditional – Cheaper products, technically innovative, and distribute through unconventional channels.


SC Johnson’s new product failure (Tahiti Foam Bath) was based on a strategy that focused only on the market leaders, Noxzema and Vaseline. They should have assessed the level of competitor noise by other companies, such as those listed under the “All Other” category in AC Nielsen market research, which accounted for 28% of total industry sales.

If SC Johnson had broadened the scope for their strategy, they’d discover over 60 other brands vying for the same store space as Noxzema and Vaseline. Breaking through would require a lot more investment than what they had budgeted.

Tahiti Bath Foam was pulled from the shelves within 6 months of launch.

It’s human nature to focus on readily available information. But, what about those competitors under or off your radar screen? What threat do these non-traditional competitors pose?