The Marketing Science Institute recently published the results of a massive study of the ability of market leaders to regain market leadership if they lose that position. Data from over several decades was assembled covering 125 consumer product categories. Some of the most significant findings came for the in-depth study of quarterly data over the past 10 years.
The study found that hundreds of products had temporarily lost the top spot but quickly regained it. On the other hand, the window for reclaiming the leadership role was narrow. Fewer and fewer products were able to get back on top after just three quarters of being below the top. In their database, there were 1004 products that regained leadership within three quarters. In the next 13 quarters a total of only 219 products got back on top, and only 4 products made it back to leadership over the 17th and 18th quarter.
So…what should a leader take from this? The longer you are behind, the harder it is to recover and achieve a position of strength. Importantly, to get ahead and stay ahead, you need to constantly execute the following:
1.) Face Reality – Too often we convince ourselves that our current state is best possible, even though it is not ideal. With time, that mindset gets easier and easier to adopt, as the study above suggests. The fact is we need to constantly and objectively face reality and isolate where we must do better as well as seize new trends or technologies.
2.) Innovate – We constantly need fresh new ideas to sort through and most importantly, we need to aggressively jump on those that we believe will strengthen our position. To do this, you need personnel that constantly refuse to accept the status quo.
3.) A Constant Sense of Urgency – The fact is, you are never finished. Just when you feel that sense of pride on achieving a significant improvement, you need to realize it is time to put that pride aside and start all over.
Strong leaders don’t take satisfaction from being the leader; they take it from their confidence in their ability to constantly find ways to do better.