We use the terms red and blue oceans to denote the market universe. Red oceans are all the industries in existence today – the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of existing demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities, and cutthroat competition turns the red ocean bloody. Hence, the term “red” oceans.
Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today — the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue Ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored. Like the “blue” ocean, it is untouched, vast and deep in terms of profitable growth.
Blue ocean strategy provides a systematic approach to break out of the red ocean of bloody competition and make the competition irrelevant by reconstructing market boundaries to create a leap in value for both the company and its buyers. Instead of competing in existing industries, blue ocean strategy equips companies with frameworks and analytic tools to create their own blue ocean of uncontested market space.