Traditionally, all three competitors aimed to cover as much of the market as possible, being active in every segment and selling the maximum number of units in order to take advantage of economies of scale. This strategy was not particularly successful, because each company had limited resources (for R&D, distribution channels, service, and so on) and one competitor might simply offer greater customer value in a particular cell.
Market shares were fiercely contested, which in turn ruined margins. The competitors therefore started to focus. If we look at the situation shown in
Fig. 11.10, we see that the overall market leader Aspen, a genuine hidden champion, is no longer present in the two right columns of the competition map. Several years ago, Aspen, which is primarily renowned for the quality of its engines but otherwise delivers few frills, withdrew from the full-equipment and turbo/high-performance product segments. The company now concentrates on its four “natural spaces” (each shown with an A) in the two left columns, namely large and small engines for professionals and brand-oriented customers. All of its resources, from R&D to marketing and advertising, are channeled into these segments. The segments of semi-professionals and private customers are of secondary importance, unless these customers are extremely brand-oriented with a correspondingly high willingness to pay. In contrast to Aspen, Rextar and Konrad are less clearly positioned. These companies waste considerable resources on fighting for the cells in the two right-hand columns, which Aspen no longer actively pursues. Konrad is stuck in several less attractive segments and attacks Rextar in the cell of small engines for private customers, apparently to gain leadership in the entire noncommercial segment. Rextar hits back in several cells, repeatedly resulting in price wars and other forms of ruinous competition. So while Rextar and Konrad are fighting price wars in several segments, Aspen keeps its distance. Each company must respect the “natural spaces” of the others. Konrad and Rextar refrain from attacking Aspen’s natural space, while Aspen controls the competition and does not become a pawn in their game. This is the role for which a genuine hidden champion should strive."