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December 20, 2010

2010 Novel Piece Prize in Marketing Luminance

Since this blog began in December of 2003, I've awarded and celebrated the best business books from the past year. The Brand Autopsy blog archives include award winners from 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007. (Instead of award winners in 2008, we shared a collection of worthy reads [2008].)

We're changing things up this year with the introduction of a new award to recognize excellence in business book writing. It's called the NOVEL PIECE PRIZE and the first recipient has just been awarded.

The Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice has decided to award the Novel Piece Prize in Marketing Luminance for 2010 to Youngme Moon for her analysis of heterogeneous homogeneity in maturing product markets .


Why do so many businesses focus on eliminating the differences between products in their competitive set rather than accentuating those differences? This year's recipient of the Novel Piece Prize in Marketing Luminance developed a theory which can be used to answer that question as well as provide strategic guidance to improve the marketing of any product.

Youngme Moon, the Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, formulated a hypothesis to illuminate the destructive business practice of commoditization. Writing in her seminal book, DIFFERENT: Escaping the Competitive Herd, Youngme, theorizes "the more fierce the competition, the stronger the firm's commitment to differentiation should be." However, as Youngme posits, "companies have gotten so collectively locked into a particular cadence of competition that they appear to have lost sight of their mandate—which is to create meaningful grooves of separation from one another."

Youngme's findings reveal businesses today have become masters of imitation, producing dissimilar product clones resulting in product categories marred by "heterogeneous homogeneity." This herd competitive mentality produces "an explosion of choices, but those choices are meaningless to many of us."

According to Youngme Moon, achieving true differentiation "is rarely a function of well-roundedness; it is typically a function of lopsidedness." Deviance is the difference-maker and continuously approaching decision-making from a lopsided point-of-view will help businesses design products and programs to succeed "in a world where conformity reigns but exceptions rule."

Please join me in celebrating the work of Youngme Moon as the recipient of the Novel Piece Prize in Marketing Luminance for 2010.


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