Beating the Competition by Re-Defining the Rules of the Game


Situation: IntraLase was a start-up manufacturer of a breakthrough laser technology for the refractive eye-surgery marketplace. That industry was dominated by traditional equipment used in LASIK corrective surgery; these technologies had a 90%+ share of a $1B+ marketplace. The perception among their target market, Medical Doctors (ophthalmologists), was that the LASIK technology met all their needs; they saw no reason to change to a new ‘unproven’ technology that cost $350,000. At the same time, another new technology (Wavefront), which cost about one-fifth as much as IntraLase, was being introduced that threatened IntraLase’s ability to create a viable business. At this point, IntraLase had an undifferentiated position, no control of the dialogue with consumers (since they had a minimal marketing budget), and a physician target audience that had little motivation to switch technologies.

Core Strategy Group’s Approach: Our objective was to turn a new technology with high potential into one that doctors and their patients would not only demand, but also willingly pay a premium for. Our experience told us that, to accomplish that, we needed to define the rules of the game on IntraLase’s terms, not those of their competitors. To do this, we helped the company develop a customized go-to-market plan built on a new value proposition that would create demand among key targets. While we continued to target MDs, we also added the “customers’ customers”—patients—and took a new, multifaceted approach to the marketplace. For MDs, we focused on transforming the technology’s newness in the market from a weakness to strength by positioning IntraLase as the only procedure that could reinvigorate and grow the category. We positioned LASIK as yesterday’s news—and IntraLase as the one technology that could deliver better vision with fewer complications, a message that we knew would resonate with consumers.

Results: Armed with a motivating strategy and activation plan, IntraLase grew the business from $20 million annually to $115 million annually in three years. IntraLase MDs were able to secure a price premium of 17 percent compared to standard LASIK procedures, and revenue from procedures for IntraLase MDs increased outpaced traditional LASIK surgeons by 29 percent. Consumers also responded to the positioning: IntraLase has captured over 25% of the market and is the industry standard for high-quality corrective eye surgery procedures.

The Core Strategy Group Difference: The problem that most companies face is that while markets have changed fundamentally, the practice of marketing has barely changed at all. Core Strategy Group combines traditional business focused marketing discipline with the aggressiveness and drive of an insurgent strategic model. It is a model built for clarity, speed and impact. This is the new model for companies who are serious about improving their market performance, revenues, share and return on marketing investment. It provides the most effective way for any organization to compete—and win.