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Challenger brands

The term ‘challenger brand’ was popularised by the author Adam Morgan, who argued that challenging market dominance works and small brands can topple big ones if they take a systematically different approach to strategy. Challenger brands are not just ‘runners up’ in a category; they are brands that deliberately and provocatively break category rules. They are defined by their state of mind, not their state of market.

Key Reading

Important papers from across the Warc database

Adam Morgan discusses five valuable strategies that can be adapted from a new generation of 'challenger brands'. He uses several practical examples, including one from method, which has build "unique visibility" into its packaging as an alternative to advertising.
Best practice for bending the rules and creating new paths to success.
Adam Morgan on how small brands can topple big ones if they take a different strategy.
How brands like T-Mobile, Airbnb, Warby Parker and Dove take on their category leaders.

Case Study

This case study describes how cider brand Orchard Thieves Cider used a multichannel approach to appeal to Millennials to launch into the market in Ireland.

Case Study

This case study describes how Kabuto noodles, a UK noodle brand, launched itself with a clean design language that recalled the 'fresh sophistication' of restaurants like Wagamama into a category dominated by cheap, jokey brands.

Case Study

This case study describes how Hippeas, a British vegan snack brand, launched its premium proposition with the added value of affordability, with a design that was instantly recognisable and simple.

Case Study

This case study explores how Cawston Press, a British soft drinks manufacturer, was capable of increasing sales with its promotion of taste and excitement in a commoditised sector.

Case Study

This case study shows how Virgin Media, a mobile operator in the UK, created #phonerumour to talk about a new iPhone launch before anyone else did and amplify the Virgin name.

Case Study

This case study describes how EQ Bank, a digital bank, successfully launched in the Canadian market.
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Article

This event report looks at how one brand went about entering a new category and challenging the market leader there.

Article

This article posits that challenger brands don't need the huge budgets of established competitors to break into the market - by concentrating on craft and attention to detail, and understanding certain principles of neuroscience, new brands can carve out a niche.

Article

This article explores the position of a brand as challenger - a state not necessarily conferred by not-market-leader status; traditions won't do so the rules must be re-written.

Article

This webinar lays out strategies to help turn the apparent constraints (of budget, resource, time or talent) that we face as a daily business reality into stimulus to deliver more powerfully against brand purpose and business ambitions.

Article

This event report considers the argument that limitations on resources can lead marketers to think more creatively about how they can best use what is at their disposal.

Article

This event report shows how Julep, a challenger in the beauty category, has effectively used the principle of crowdsourcing to create new products and build its brand.
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  1. Article

    This article posits that challenger brands don't need the huge budgets of established competitors to break into the market - by concentrating on craft and attention to detail, and understanding certain principles of neuroscience, new brands can carve out a niche.

  2. Article

    This article explores the position of a brand as challenger - a state not necessarily conferred by not-market-leader status; traditions won't do so the rules must be re-written.

  3. Article

    This article covers a keynote address by AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes, who shares the marketing insights that propelled the Malaysian airline from humble beginnings to being crowned the World's Best Low-Cost Carrier winner seven years in a row.

  4. Article

    This event report provides an insight into how challenger brands can seek to take on category leaders.

  5. Article

    This article provides marketers with information and guidance on building brands.

  6. Article

    While some marketers begin to start the uphill struggle against restricted promotional budgets, some brands have always had to operate on limited resources.
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