7 Disruptive Innovation Approaches: How to Disrupt an Industry

Jul 14, 2021

A Disruptive Innovation is an innovation that transforms an existing market or industry by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability where complication and high-cost have become the status quo.


A business is often disruptive to existing companies in an industry when it offers value to the market in novel and imaginative ways—thus attracting customers that were previously hesitant of buying products in the industry.


A business is disruptive to existing companies in an industry when it pushes the status quo, connects buyers and sellers together in new markets, or drives down prices in established markets.


7 Different ways to disrupt a market:

  1. Low-end disruption – Target customers who do not need the full performance valued by customers at the high-end of the market. Fiverr is an example of a company that provides a marketplace where you can get quick and cheap services
    1. PlentyOfFish – Disrupted the online dating industry by making it free for everyone and keeping their costs low.
  2. New-market disruption – Specifically target customers who have needs that were previously unserved by existing companies. From there, you can expand your scope when opportunities arise.
    1. AirBnB – Disrupted the hotel industry by targeting people who want to rent entire houses almost anywhere in the world for a very cheap price.
  3. Create new sources of supply – Try to look for sources of supply that were previously unused or difficult to sell and use that supply to connect buyers and sellers.
    1. com – Disrupted the stock photography industry by crowdsourcing photographs from people around the world and by making purchases affordable for everyone.
  4. Solve a specific problem first, then expand scope – Focus on solving simple and small problems initially and then relentlessly expand the functionality and scope of your offering
    1. Coursera – Disrupted the education industry by initially streaming videos of courses from prestigious universities at no cost.
    2. But later, it expanded its offerings to include Specializations, degrees, and a workforce development product for businesses and government organizations.
  5. Put technologies to new and novel uses – According to Clayton Christensen, market disruption has been found to be a function usually not of technology itself but rather of its changing application. Introduce a new use to a technology in an industry or introduce a technology to an industry where it previously wasn’t being used.
    1. Uber – Disrupted the taxi industry by providing mobile applications to its customers and drivers to coordinate dispatches and cashless payments. These mobile apps allows its drivers to use their own cars and provide their services at lower prices.
  6. Borrow business models from other markets – Borrow a business model from another market to use in the market you’re targeting.
    1. Adobe – monthly subscriptions
    2. An example, AT&T recently launched its new HBOMax streaming service, which uses a similar business model as Netflix and Disney Plus when it comes to the releases of exclusive conten
  7. Connect buyers with sellers – offer solutions that make transactions between buyers and sellers a faster and more convenient experience
    1. Examples of marketpalces that connects buyers and sellers are Fiverr, Upwork, Ebay, and more.


Examples of Disruption Innovation

  • Wikipedia – Disrupted the encyclopedia industry by providing a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
  • Skype – Disrupted the telecommunication industry by providing text and voice for low or no cost.
  • Netflix – Disrupted the entertainment/retail industry by offering monthly plans for movie rentals, providing a streaming service, and doing away with late fees.
  • MaxCDN.com – Disrupted the file syndication industry by offering services that were affordable to a larger low-end market rather than just the biggest web properties.


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