Great post about bjj and judo as “brands” of the same art competing for grappling students.
Extending this kind of marketing analysis to sport fight TV viewer segments, I am still waiting for san shou to get more popular. Regular folks don’t like groundfighting. They like KO’s and throws. It makes the fights exciting and requires much less technical understanding to follow. Of course, UFC, etc. take big steps to create barriers to entry and lock-in and a brand. But I for one am ready for san shou or some other striking/throwing format. I wonder what the market is like in Greater China for it on TV. Surely it is dominant. I’d much rather watch that format than a pure grappling or boxing match or mma, and I’m almost certain I can follow a bit more ranges than most viewers. The new competitors trying to enter the market against UFC should take note of this kind of differentiation. I think it’s only a matter of time. Compete on an excitement positioning, not a closeness-to-reality positioning.
The early adopters could appreciate the various technicalities of mma, but even they/we are getting bored of boring matches that are very close to call. Regular people want exciting fights or something else interesting. For example, the scripted and well-produced Human Weapon is a lot more entertaining than your typical mma night of matches where you have to wait to see something good or fast forward later or watch only highlight clips. (This post explains nicely how boring UFC 78 was.) Kind of like scripted drama has made a great comeback against boring “reality” TV (I can’t stand TUF or any of these other stupid shows). Even Jerry Springer had more excitement. C’mon people watched it for the fights. That show could even challenge UFC’s brand positioning. What’s more real, well trained athletes in multiple disciplines in a cage with a ref or real people having a technically lousy brawl? The apparent emotion and spontaneity that seemed real – as real as it might be – adds a nice drama element that is what draws people to fake pro wrestling. The tagline “as real as it gets” would have been more suited for JS. And what’s more exciting? Jerry Springer fights any day.
C’mon media moguls, differentiate. The same “suppliers” or “product” (the fighters) can come from the same potential labor pool. Actually the labor pool would be bigger since you don’t need groundfighting. Heck, how about just people who would otherwise go on Jerry Springer? Give them some headgear and gloves to settle their dispute. You can do better than cage vs. ring or individuals vs. teams/seasons and other weak differentiators. Then you can find a more lucrative and/or different segment of the market as well, and we fans would get more formats and more excitement. Win-win-win. This seems like such a no-brainer I can’t believe someone hasn’t looked at the concept, done some market research to bear it out, and started developing it.