Blue Ocean Approach to Market Research

Step 1: Use Visualization Strategies to Develop Research Questions

Blue Ocean Strategy Supports the Development of Market Research for Start-Ups
••• Fred Bahurlet/EyeEm/Getty Images

Step 1: Use Visualization Strategies to Develop Research Questions

Step 2: Use Blue Ocean Tools to Refine Market Research Questions

Starting up a new small business? Getting the entrepreneurial itch? Take a Blue Ocean approach to developing market research questions. According to Kim & Mauborgne (2015), "Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low-cost to create new market space.

Blue Ocean Strategy seeks to make the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for both the company and its buyers."

Market research is important at several junctures in business development, including the early conceptualization stage. The market research design process can be supported by Blue Ocean strategy tools. In the initial phase of conceptualization is the perfect time to conduct Visualization, and move to use the Four Actions framework and the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC) Grid. This article explains how to use Blue Ocean Strategy to develop a market research plan for product or service concepts, launch, and marketing.  

Visual Awakening

The visual awakening process enables the comparison of the new conceptualized product or service with those already in existence in the industry. This step can and should be combined with a strategy canvas, which is a graphic depiction of the competitive status of three to four companies.


The strategy canvas shows how the companies compare on key elements that are important to consumers. Market research questions can be effectively generated by using the Blue Ocean visual awakening processes.  

Visual Exploration

The visual exploration process provides an opportunity to observe and consider the distinct advantages that alternative products and services could provide.

The observations are intended to facilitate the process of determining which elements to eliminate, reduce, raise, create, or change in an existing business or what would be a conventional approach to a start-up in an industry. 

Determine which factors appear to be important to consumers and which factors can clearly be categorized within the six paths to conventional competition. Begin brainstorming ideas for strengthening the appeal of the new product or service to consumers. Don't concentrate on competitor action or reaction: be customer-centric. 

Visual Strategy Fair

A visual strategy fair is designed to capture a 360 degree perspective of the business as it is and the business as it could be. Create market research questions to ask of customers, potential customers, competitors customers, and non-customers. Insights gained from the visual strategy fair will be used to construct the strategy canvas.

Compile a list of stakeholders and others important to the concept. Create market research questions that ask about existing products and services, and create questions that ask respondents to think outside of their customary expectations for the product or service. Construct a survey questionnaire by using resources that provide guidance about the construction of questions.

Determine the best way to ensure good response rates from the survey participants.

Visual Communication 

By writing the before and after strategic profiles on a single page visual communication is made easier since it is easier to make comparisons. Identify the elements and changes that enable actualization of the new product or service concept as a Blue Ocean strategic design.        

Summarize the comparisons made between the Blue Ocean design and conventional designs of the product or service. Create good content that will appeal to consumers and assist with any fundraising efforts. Utilize videos and images in the content in order to maximize the impact of the content. 


Kim, W. C. and Mauborgne, R. (2015, January 20). Blue ocean strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant (expanded ed.).

  Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press