A snowball's chance in hell

If the market leader's strategy is just too good, staging a comeback for competitors becomes practically impossible.

There often comes a point in a game where the leader is so well entrenched in their position at the front, that no matter what the competition then does in response, no matter how shrewd and cunning, they effectively have a snowball's chance in hell of ever catching up.

This happens when the good strategy that the leader executed earlier on in the game, puts them so far ahead that they effectively close the game out early; all counter moves covered, all options neutralised, all hope lost.

'Search' as a category is a good example of this.

Nobody in their right mind would ever propose a credible strategy to take on Google in Search. Google command more than 95% of the global Search market - has done so for decades; the competitive game was over a long time ago.

Similarly, as we read the staggeringly impressive results coming out of the Shoprite Group (BTW - 1 in everything 3 grocery transactions now go through the Shoprite Checkers Group) success that has come as a result of their strategy - it appears increasingly obvious that we can now also move the 'Grocery" category in South Africa into the same 'lost cause' grouping that includes the likes of 'Search'.

How the competition would plausible be able to claw themselves back into the game is certainly unclear. They can work themselves to death, initiate countless redesigns and reconfigurations to try slow down their inevitable demise, but we suspect that these efforts will all be in vain. Their customers are gone and more will follow.

When a massive system like Shoprite Checkers gets moving and gobbling up the market like this there really isn't much that can stop it. And wise strategists will recognise this reality and not even attempt to get involved trying to help the competitors. There is such a thing as fertile ground for strategy work - and the 'grocery' category in South Africa is not a good example of it.

So what now? What can the other brands in the category do about Shoprite Checkers?


They can look busy and make noises that might sound like a revival, but it's over. 'Die koeël is deur die kerk' as they say in Afrikaans.


Shoprite’s delivery sales rocket 60% as it ‘absolutely kills’ rivals in battle for convenience | Business
South African demand for the convenience of online shopping is showing no signs of abating, with Shoprite reporting its on-demand delivery service Sixty60 experienced a 63% surge in interim sales off an already high base.