We often think of challengers as having a disruption gene, enabling them to take risks while the rest of us sit safely in our traditional routines.
But the challenger mindset comprises several key qualities that can be practiced and honed to bring much-needed disruption wherever you are with your business.
What Are the Components of a Challenger Mindset?
The most important feature of challengers is that they're devoted to their audience. They know a set of customers inside-out and are focused on delivering to these people.
This means that challengers are more focused on disrupting their category and offering a new kind of experience than they are on challenging competitors. They think beyond the traditional business anxiety of outselling other brands and instead double down on their relationships with people.
This mindset inevitably includes taking risks. The defining feature of challengers is that they’re not trying to please everyone. They’ve decided on their mission and their message, which means that the message will alienate some people and will be meaningless to others.
But it’s also because of this focus that challenger brands are able to resonate so deeply with the consumers they’re focusing on, even when the product is something entirely new.
When a Challenger Mindset Gets It Right
When a brand challenges the norms of its category for the right reasons, the results are powerful.
Mattress brand Casper has disrupted the sleep industry by focusing on what people want. The company understands consumers' need to try out a big-investment product, so it built in a generous trial period. It also challenged the notion that a high-quality mattress had to cost thousands of dollars, and it disrupted the delivery model by boxing up the mattresses and shipping them directly to customers' homes.
Another brand getting the challenger mindset right is Coterie, a party supply company whose founders were motivated by empathy for a set of customers they understood really well. These customers needed the ease and efficiency of one-stop online shopping with the pleasure of personalized party planning. The company ships all the supplies needed for a party in one box.
When and How Should You Adopt a Challenger Mindset?
A challenger mindset works for any company that's looking to forge a deeper connection with customers.
If you take an honest look at the world around you, you’ll see patterns that don’t serve the consumer. Perhaps the same ideas or modes of expression are being regurgitated over and over again, making the consumer feel distrustful.
Armed with a map of your surroundings, you can then think creatively about what experience you could offer that would win customers’ trust. Distill the list of values that your brand represents, and come up with tangible ways you could bring those values to life through your actions.
This focus will allow you to rise above previously off putting challenges. You’ll realize that you don’t need to worry as much about generational or demographic differences or social media clutter. Focus on mindset first and foremost, and you’ll connect with people who share your values.
Adopting a challenger mindset can be scary. It involves stepping out of your comfort zone to make a bold play for your customers’ trust. But what you gain is invaluable. Brands that aren’t willing to take this risk will become outdated and distanced from customers — while you’ll get closer.