Exciting Brand, Boring Category

Created: February 27, 2023
Updated: August 10, 2023

This is a go-to-market approach used by brands in crowded, blurry, boring market categories.

The recipe:

  • Find a category that is stale and is blurry – where all players operate in a similar way

  • Use a brand-focused differentiator to stand out.


  • Virgin Airlines in long-haul travel (1990s)

    • Did everything to look ‘fun’
      • More risque uniforms

      • In-flight entertainment for all, which was usually reserved for business-class travel

  • Liquid Death in the packaged water market

    • Packaged like an energy drink, branded with fun adverts.

    • Appeals to category outsiders

      • Construction workers grabbing a drink from 7/11 on a break

      • Teenagers who think water is boring

Possible Advantages:

  • Identifying a boring market category first makes it easier to stand out

  • Able to attract new buyers who were never served by the category

Possible Disadvantages:

  • Mature markets benefit economies of scale.

    • Older players may have a cost advantage allowing them to profit without innovation or standing out.
  • Long-term sustainability

    • Offerings may be easily copied by inbumants