Being first: gaining and maintaining leadership

David Taylor and David Nichols

The recession has been a long overdue wake-up call for marketing and business in general, forcing companies to take a more pragmatic and bottom-line-driven approach. In particular, successful companies have refocused their investment and effort on gaining and maintaining leadership, recognising the significant brand and business benefits this can confer.

Leadership can mean outright market leadership, as in the case of Tesco or Walmart in supermarkets. Or it could be leadership of a specific sector, defined by target group, channel or price positioning.

People like to portray Apple as a 'challenger brand'. In fact its successful turnaround came from focusing on segments where it could be the 'leader brand'. It has a 90 per cent share of the US PC market for products over $1,000 (£620). And it has a 70 per cent share of the MP3 player market with the iPod.