Hostile markets have low returns due to low market pricing. Most companies will eventually face a hostile market and would benefit from the experiences of managements who have successfully coped with hostility. In a nine-year effort, encompassing several hundred companies in more than forty industries, Windermere Associates has studied the strategies of companies who have performed well in this environment. All these companies pursued five basic strategies: they focused on large customers, but accepted others; they differentiated themselves from their competition in terms of reliability; they covered a broad spectrum of price points; they turned price into a commodity; and they emphasized high resource utilization. However, the successful companies were notably different from one another in how they implemented these themes. The differences related to their size. Gold competitors, one of the top two industry competitors, exploited their size—but with great discipline. Meanwhile, the smaller Silver competitors, ranked third or below in market share, succeeded with finesse and focus.
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