• Marion Burchell

To disrupt during the disruption? That is the question...

There is no doubt that we are experiencing significant disruption, a seismic shift in a world that has been in “status quo” for too long. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

The current Covid-19 situation and the economic impact provides an opportunity for a re-think in what we should do and how.

It’s the perfect time for market segments that have been on the decline for some time, or are ripe for disruption, to think about their strategy going forward.

Now is the time for opportunity. Now is the time for innovation. Now is the time to be the disruptor and disrupt during the disruption.

And it’s been done before.

Uber and AirBnB, valued upwards $80 billion and $35 billion respectively, were both established during the global financial crisis, or the Great Recession[1].

The ride sharing company Uber (originally called UberCab) was founded in March 2009, and AirBnB was founded in August 2008 initially as a stop gap for rent. Both companies were founded during a tough and challenging economic period and went on to become incredibly successful businesses that disrupted their respective markets.

More than 10 years on, we are seeing more disruption in the market as COVID-19 creates more winners and losers.

While we sheltered in place, not able to access gyms or workout in the park, many of us sought alternate ways to exercise. As a result, it’s no wonder companies like Peloton have taken the market by storm.

Peloton offers live and on-demand workouts – with or without a bike. Think “Netflix for Fitness”, Peloton was founded in 2012 and has had a meteoric rise with people flocking to consume fitness when they want, how they want. This includes being able to attend classes virtually with a trainer in real time or do a pre-recorded workout session allowing clients to access it at a time more convenient to them. Let’s face it, not all of us are prepared to be up and ready at 6am with water bottle, Lycra on, and protein bar in hand!

With its tech-enabled bike and on-demand workout sessions, Peloton is disrupting more than the bike industry - it’s disrupting the gym and fitness equipment industries too.

It’s not just Peloton that has disrupted the market. I recently heard of a company called Mirror. And I want one.

Mirror was created in 2018 by Brynn Putnam a former ballet dancer and is one of the newest entrants into the athleisure market. Mirror is a home fitness wall-mounted machine that streams workout classes right into your home, be it live or on-demand.

Mirror was recently acquired by Lululemon for $500 million. Why? Because it helps the clothing brand to directly reach customers – creating a stronger relationship and loyalty with the brand. It allows Lululemon to create an online retail store that directly sells its products to athleisure clients using Mirror. Think omnichannel social commerce.


What do they all have in common? They saw opportunity in the market and went for it. They used the uncertainty and changing conditions to identify how to meet new and emerging consumer demands and worked towards meeting those demands.

The bottom line? While some companies are taking the opportunity to acquire businesses and technology to secure their place in the market, it’s also a time to create new opportunities through innovation.

There is no doubt these are challenging times. There is no doubt we have all been affected in some way. What we choose to do will be the deciding factor in whether we are a winner or loser during COVID-19. Innovation and strategy will be key to your success. Ask yourself: Do I have the right mindset to navigate the changing waters? Do I have a winning strategy? Have I considered how we might innovate to position ourselves for success? What are the changing consumer expectations and how can I meet them? Where do I focus in order to survive? This is what will determine if you’re an Uber or a Blockbuster in 2020 and beyond.


About Marion

Marion is a highly experienced and accomplished strategy, innovation and leadership professional with a focus on the enterprise and government sectors. She is a trusted advisor to CEOs and senior executives, providing practical and pragmatic solutions to the challenges they face. Marion is the Managing Director at Azolla Holdings Pty Ltd, a Board member, thought leader and member of an international entrepreneur association.


Notes: [1] The Great Recession was technically from December 2007 – June 2009.

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