How Challenger Brands Have (and Haven't) Changed in the 21 Years Since the Term Was Coined

They've never been more popular, but the context in which they operate is critically different

Twenty-one years is a long time in marketing: The world has changed enormously, and concepts have come and gone. Yet the idea of challenger brands, which we first introduced in the book Eating the Big Fish in 1999, has not only endured, but seems to be even more of the zeitgeist than ever, and a greater force for change in many of the categories around us. A BCG study in 2017 showed that $22 billion in value moved from bigger brands in packaged goods to smaller challengers over a five-year period in both the U.S. and Europe. It seems that, in both the business world and our purchasing habits, challenger brands have never been more popular.

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This story first appeared in the March 2, 2020, issue of Brandweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.