Beware In The Age Of Disruption

Welcome to the age of disruption.

We have seen many examples where disruption in business, politics and other societal ventures is a powerful agent of change, capable of squashing the denials of entrenched insiders.

Outsiders are stepping up. And they are cultivating the trust of people apparently uninspired by norms that have gone unchallenged for years if not generations.

Caught Off Guard

We know now, for example, there is no reversing the disruption by e-commerce in general, and Amazon in particular, that caught much of the traditional retail seller and buyer establishment off guard.

Actually, disruption has always been at the root of progress in business. It just hasn’t always been as jarring and sudden as it seems in today’s fast-moving, digitally connected marketplace.

HomeWorld’s annual Cookware & Bakeware Report in the February 5 edition examines a high-profile example of disruption in the housewares business: the growing impact of As Seen On TV non-stick cookware brands on the mainstream retail non-stick cookware industry.

It has taken just a couple of years for infomercial-supported cookware with copper-colored, reinforced ceramic coatings to infiltrate the ranking of top-selling cookware lines against some formidable established players.

The collective marketing effort behind Emson’s Gotham Steel, Tristar’s Copper Chef and TeleBrands’ Red Copper shows no sign of slowing. Their direct-response blitz has convinced retailers and consumers to veer from brands that have anchored cookware departments for years.

Strength In Numbers

Suppliers that make their living primarily in the retail cookware space might not have seen this coming. Or perhaps they thought it would be a blip, like many As Seen On TV campaigns, whose purveyors historically were quick to pull the plug at the first sign of diminishing returns.

The As Seen On TV business has become more adept, however, at long-term brand-building in recent years. Emson, Tristar and TeleBrands have gained cookware credibility, critical mass and strength in numbers through their three-way barrage. They claim to be in it for the long haul. And with the numbers they are generating, why not?

It is the type of disruption persuading veteran players to reconsider tactics in an effort to reinforce their core before it’s too late to recapture share.

Scorched Ground

And it is a lesson for every longstanding business insider that feels insulated from the potential for outsiders to scorch the sacred ground of established retail practices.

An online bookseller that believes it can sell kitchenware.

A coffee roaster that believes consumers will pay significantly more to brew one cup at a time.

A robotics startup that believes a vacuum cleaner should roam floors unattended.

Every business faces a dilemma in the age of disruption: Be the disruptor. Or risk being disrupted.