To achieve a challenger mindset, you need to define your purpose, clarify your motivation and be clear about the fight you want to take on. Being a challenger and driving change is hard, so take the time to look deep inside yourself and define the fight you are about to take on. This will fuel the challenge you are about to take on. 

This is the second article in our Challenger Marketing series you can find article one here.

In our fast-paced world, life can feel like a never-ending race. With the constant pressure of balancing work, family, friends, and personal life, it's easy to feel like we're stuck on autopilot, just going through the motions. But how do you break out of this routine and push yourself to achieve greater things?

To do this, you need to be motivated and convinced that the payoff will be worth it. It's not enough to simply want to get bigger or better, there needs to be a clear and tangible benefit that will result from your efforts. It could be financial gain, personal growth, or a positive impact on your community or the environment.

To achieve this challenger mindset, you need to define your purpose, clarify your motivation and be clear about the fight you want to take on. This will drive a way of thinking, living and working that will help you to step up and make a difference.

The key difference is defining your challenge, defining what you are figuratively going to fight for. This is much more emotional and more powerful in terms of driving behaviour. It taps into something almost primordial – that prefrontal fight-or-flight response.  

‘Defining the fight is powerful. Who are you fighting for or fighting against?’

That’s why we like the idea of defining the fight. Defining who it is you are fighting for or fighting against is powerful. Fights are more dangerous, you need to be committed, 100% in. However it’s important to note (and we will talk about this later) that fights don’t need to be masculine, violent, full-frontal assaults. There are many different ways to go to war. But it’s important to remember that this is a challenge, you are trying to make a difference. While lives might not be at stake, you are trying to do something that is bigger and more important than just making money. 

The Four Fights

We touched on the four types of challenge in the last article. Just to summarise, these are four main fights you can have as a challenger: For the Customer, Against the Category, Against the Leader, or For Good. Every business should have a defined challenge. So let’s have a look at the different fights you can have and explore them in a little more depth, so you can start to think about which fight is right for you.

For the Customer. A 'for the customer' challenger approach prioritises the satisfaction of the customer by creating products, services, and campaigns that exceed their expectations. This approach involves a deep understanding of the customer and their demographics, preferences, and pain points. This also involves ongoing customer engagement and feedback to continuously improve products and services. The ultimate goal of this approach is to create long-term customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Examples: There are lots of examples of this approach, brands like Xero, Blunt, Good George are all focused on developing better products, better customer experiences, from beautiful accounting to an umbrella made for the extremes, and crafting beer to show people what great beer can be. These challengers are all about creating products and services that exceed customers expectations. They are made to deliver a better customer experience and focus on communicating their point of difference to their customers.


Against the Category - An 'against the category' challenger approach positions a product or service as a unique alternative or fresh new solution to the drawbacks of existing products or services in the same category. It involves identifying limitations in the category and emphasising how this new product or service addresses those limitations. The approach requires a significant marketing budget and innovative branding, advertising, and product design to educate and set it apart from competitors. This strategy is a bold and disruptive way to gain market share and customer loyalty by offering a new and improved alternative to the status quo. It's a high-risk, high-reward approach that can result in significant market share gains and customer loyalty if executed successfully.

Examples - Uber, Ārepa, Sealegs. These are brands that are doing things very differently to the category and providing a definitive alternative. Uber is infamous for creating such a different product that it was breaking rules and regulations for its alternative approach. Ārepa are inventing a new category of drinks that make your brain work better. And lastly Sealegs is a very different boat. An amphibious vehicle that can drive out of the water and on the road to be parked back at the beach house. These companies all faced significant initial development costs - they are producing something new, then have to educate the market about the product, how to use it and the benefits. For those that successfully do this they can eventually dominate a completely new category.


Against the Leader - An 'against the market leader' challenger approach positions a product or service as a better alternative to the market leader by highlighting the weaknesses of the leader and offering a strong value proposition, better features, or a lower price point. This strategy requires significant investment in branding, advertising, and product development to establish credibility and gain market share. While it is a high-risk strategy, it can be effective if executed correctly, resulting in increased market share and customer loyalty for the challenger brand.

Examples - Against the leader is a high risk strategy if not executed well. You need to have your facts right and then get the tone/style right for your brand. It’s also a much better strategy when you are clearly smaller than the market leader you are taking on. In this space two famous examples are the Avis versus Hertz - ‘we try harder’ campaign. Based on a truth that they are smaller and are willing to try harder to look after you than their bigger lazier market leader. This tapped into something we all fundamentally believe. PC versus Mac is another great example - smaller quirkier, likeable Mac guy delicately (or not so delicately) pointing out things he can do that PC guy can not. Locally Pak’nSave take on Countdown with clear price comparisons and Flick take on the big Gentalers in their latest campaign. You probably see the fewest examples of brands choosing this fight because of the risks involved. Executed well though it can work hard.

For Good - A 'for good' challenger approach is a strategy that focuses on creating a positive impact on society or the environment by using a product or service. This approach often involves partnering with non-profit organisations, engaging in sustainable and ethical practices, donating a portion of profits to charity, or supporting social and environmental initiatives. The goal of this approach is to attract socially and environmentally conscious consumers and build a strong brand that is aligned with social and environmental causes, resulting in increased brand loyalty and differentiation from competitors.

Examples - There are lots of examples in this category, EcoStore is one of the early pioneers in the space growing a business with a goal to be the world’s most trusted and sustainable home and body care brand. Other brands following this strategy include Karma Drinks formed to create drinks from ingredients that were good for the land, good for the people who grow them and good for the people consuming them, and Ethique was started out of frustration with the amount of waste created by the cosmetics industry. 

These are the four key fights a challenger brand can have. These are all fights worth having, fights that will lead to happier customers, better services, and a better world to live in. ‘What do you want to fight for?’ is a key question for you as a business and as a brand. The answer will drive you and define how you approach your marketing, touching everything from product and experience to your communications and promotions. 

Finding this is a key step in your challenger journey. We will step into how to do that later in the series in more detail but there are two places you can start to think about. Firstly, the answer is often in clear sight in the founder's origin story. Look to understand the journey in those early years when the company was formed and created - that’s when the motivation had to be strong. 

The other way to find it is to look deeply at the product or service and the people that use it until you understand its key point of difference and why people use it. Understand both the facts and the feelings that people have when they buy and use it. Similarly understanding why other people don’t buy your product will help uncover the communications challenge that fits best. 

Defining your fight makes it much easier to keep the drive going. It creates the motivation, and keeps it front and centre so you can turn off the autopilot and accelerate into the fast lane.