Winning against a dominant brand

David Aaker, Vice Chair of Prophet and Professor Emeritus, Berkeley-Haas School of Business

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Abstract: The successful e-commerce-first brands competing against Amazon provide a road map for any firm going against a dominant player in any category. These brands engage in strategic jujitsu by exploiting Amazon’s vulnerabilities — an impersonal/functional image, being the everything store without in-depth credibility in anything, and often having the personality of a-powerful giant lacking humour or warmth. Strategies that work include developing credibility for their subcategory, a simpler choice set, a brand community, a higher purpose, a personal touch, being the feisty underdog, positioning to highlight advantages and expanding the distribution footprint by adding storefront synergies.


Keywords: underdog brands, e-commerce strategies, dominant brands


David Aaker is Vice Chair of Prophet and Professor Emeritus, Berkeley-Haas School of Business. He is the author of 18 books including Owning Game-Changing Subcategories, Creating Signature Stories and Aaker on Branding and is a member of the American Marketing Association and the New York Marketing Hall of Fame.



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