With just seconds to capture the attention of shoppers browsing store shelves — or scrolling through webpages — it’s not easy for local, regional or global brands to make their products stand out.
It’s even more difficult to totally rethink a category or a market, giving consumers something they didn’t know they needed or wanted. But, according to a new white paper from Euromonitor, there are ways to move beyond innovation and into disruption, creating opportunities that didn’t exist before.
“Businesses can disrupt markets by reaching consumers in new ways and reinventing category engagement around service and convenience,” write Euromonitor’s Zandi Brehmer and Sarah Boumphrey in How to Be a Disruptive Brand: Reinventing Consumer Markets. “Alternative business models enable a greater number of consumers to access the category and solve problems for consumers through new routes to market.”
How can companies get to that point? First, they have to understand the difference between renovation, innovation and disruption. Brehmer and Boumphrey define renovation as reestablishing a brand within a category, while innovation requires creating new subcategories and drawing new consumers to the category as a whole.
Disruption, however, goes further, asking businesses to reconceptualize the market and put consumers at the center of it, engaging them through new technologies, convenience and strong customer service.
While renovation and innovation are often quicker means of boosting sales, achieving a real disruption won’t happen overnight, Brehmer and Boumphrey noted.
“True disruptors are not focused on short-term gains,” they wrote. “More importantly, they don’t worry about immediate profitability; they are willing to focus on the long-term opportunity.”
The authors cited Netflix as a disruptor, starting with a mail-order DVD rental service and transforming into an online streaming platform with the means to create its own award-winning content. Though relatively unknown when Netflix first launched in 1997, who can imagine a world without Netflix and other streaming services now?
The companies that disrupt harness the power of “megatrends,” or a shift in behavior that defines consumer markets in the long term. Euromonitor has identified megatrends it expects to have an impact through 2030, among them Healthy Living, Premiumization, Ethical Consumers, Multiculturalism, Personalization and Changing Family Dynamics. 
The Impossible Burger comes to mind, falling under the Healthy Living and Ethical Consumer categories. First hitting market in 2016, Impossible Foods’ plant-based burger mimics the meatiness and juiciness of an all-beef patty. But just this week, Burger King announced it would partner with the startup to launch the Impossible Whopper. That’s huge. 
To disrupt companies also have to change up their business model — how they operate and reach consumers — or the offering itself, through format, price, the values they align with or incorporating the ability to personalize goods and services to individual consumers.
While small, uprising or local brands have the flexibility and nimbleness to launch a disrupting product or service quickly, large established brands often have the resources, talent and established customer base to bring a disruptor to market. 
The trick is being the first to see a need and conceptualizing a brand-new solution for it.
“The pace of change is faster than ever and will only increase as technology and consumer behavior continue to develop at an alarming speed,” Brehmer and Boumphrey wrote. “Disruption is the new norm, challenging established global brands to stay ahead of the curve and paving continued inroads for insurgents and local brands.”