The ability to be proactive is becoming a key success factor in many industries. Creating market strategies that not only respond to existing situations but that proactively shape future events have the potential to sustain long-term competitive advantages and lead to firm success. This research aims at understanding how proactivity and proactive market strategies can be used by firms in their pursuit for competitive advantage.

The overall aim of this research area is to understand how firms can design and implement proactive market strategies and unravel how they can shape markets. In both research and practice, it is possible to discern a move away from the dominant market metaphor that emphasises markets as pre-existing towards markets as ongoing processes that actors can influence, and therefore shape, through various activities. Rather than acting defensively, protecting existing markets and market shares, research has found that organisations can shape its markets by performing proactively oriented market-related activities. Being proactive in managing the market has been shown to be an important driver of customer value creation and superior business performance. A proactive firm gains these benefits primarily through a better understanding, and management, of its customers, allowing the firm to satisfy latent needs of the customers as well as anticipate their future needs, enabling the creation of customer value.

Proactive market shaping

Proactive market shaping is indeed being recognised as a viable and deliberate market strategy for organisations to consider as markets are consideredas being malleable, and thus possible to shape. The market strategy of a firm outlines the firm’s market-oriented approach for creating superior value, thereby gaining a competitive edge over competitors and achieving above-average business performance. As a part of the market strategy, a firm performs strategic activities intended to implement the strategy and achieve its goals. Such proactive strategies are especially important on contemporary markets with emerging challenges, such as digitalization, servitization and sustainability that may render more traditional market strategies obsolete. It is also of particular interest for firms that are global leaders within their market niches, so called ‘hidden champions’, as they need to balance local competitors and global actors as well as shape their markets in order to sustain growth.

Digital customer journeys and customer engagement strategies

An emerging area in many industries is the ability to design attractive and valuable customer journeys in order to create better customer experiences. A key aspect in this is the influence of digitalisation and how this creates new opportunities, but also challenges, as firms are interacting with customers (and also other market actors) through what we can call digital touchpoints. These touchpoints form the foundation for the design of customer journeys and can provide exciting new insights into how firms can create value and interact with their customers.

The prerequisites for our research

A starting point for research in this area is that firms are able to proactively act on, and shape, markets through conscious market shaping strategies and through digital innovations. Through a focus on proactive value creating processes, firms are better suited to drive markets, take advantage of emerging opportunities, and consequently outperform other actors. Digitalization is a key tool for this transition, and for business development in general, as it opens up new opportunities to interact with customers, create new digital offerings, as well as to drive decision-making through business analytics.
Current research investigates what proactivity can entail in a market strategic context, how firms can act in order to be proactive, and how firms can shape markets. Ongoing research projects also focus on the impact of digital technologies on customer journeys and the digital transformation of industrial firms.

Proactive market shaping and the digitalisation of customer journeys are emerging areas that are receiving increased attention globally and the division of Industrial Management at LiU is aiming to be a leader actor in this development.

Research projects

  • Digital customer journeys and value creation, Research project, 2020-2025, Erik Johnssons stiftelse
  • Proactive market shaping, Research project 2019-2021, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation)
  • Hidden champions in Swedish Industry, Research project 2018-2020, Vinnova
  • Proactive market strategies, Doctoral project 2016-2020
  • Proactivity and value creation in mature industries, Research project 2014-2017, Vinnova

About the Centre for Business Model Innovation (CBMI)

About the division and department