Inside the Tornado: A Book Review by Bob Morris

Posted on: September 30th, 2011 by bobmorris

Inside the Tornado: Strategies for Developing, Leveraging, and Surviving Hypergrowth Markets
Geoffrey A. Moore
HarperBusiness (1995)

Moore’s use of the “tornado” metaphor correctly suggests that turbulence of unprecedented magnitude has occurred within the global marketplace that the Internet and (especially) the World Wide Web have created. Moreover, such turbulence is certain to intensify. Which companies will survive? Why? I have only one (minor) quarrel with the way these two books have been promoted. True, they provide great insights into marketing within the high technology industry. However, in my opinion, all e-commerce (and especially B2B and B2B2C) will continue to be centrally involved in that industry. Moreover, the marketing strategies suggested are relevant to virtually (no pun intended) any organization — regardless of size or nature — which seeks to create or increase demand for what it sells…whatever that may be. I consider both books “must reading,” not only for leaders in high-tech companies but for those in almost any other company that now struggles with disruptive technologies in emerging markets.

The tornado in the title refers to the “vortex of market demand” and competitive ferment that occurs when a hot new technology is adopted en masse by the broader market. Moore describes strategies for harnessing the available forces to establish market leadership in this large and dynamic market. Niche, price, product, distribution, and alliance strategies are all part of the plan. In addition to the tornado itself, there are references to “The Land of Oz”, “bowling alleys”, “Main Street”, “monkeys”, “chimpanzees”, and “gorillas”. However, even if you find such analogies a stretch, continue reading because they help to describe useful theories and practices that are worth careful consideration.

“The Land of Oz” refers to both the market in the tornado and the blissful (or, perhaps, not so blissful) state reached by companies that successfully navigate through the tornado into the mainstream market. The bowling alley is a niche strategy, whereby each niche is a bowling pin. The objective is to use each pin to help pick off its neighbors. Main Street is fairly obvious. It’s the mainstream market. Monkeys, chimps and gorillas categorize market competitors based on size and competitive style. The book describes how gorillas — the market dominators — get to be gorillas and suggests strategies for each of the primates to follow. Inside the Tornado also makes extensive use of real-world as well as hypothetical examples in a number of product categories to illustrate and prove its points.

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