They started as a group of artists putting on a summer festival in Quebec in the 1980s and have now sold over 70 million tickets in 250 cities. Revenues are currently estimated to have exceeded $700 million with 15 productions presented on four continents. The huge success so far has been mainly attributed to reinventing the circus model, which removed animals from performances and included elements of theatre, story-telling and a live orchestra. Their sustainable competitive advantage undoubtedly resides on their creative expertise.
With this in mind, a recent case study from our Innovative Marketing Strategy unit provided us with the challenge of developing a long-term marketing strategy to once again bring innovation to the Cirque du Soleil and demonstrate how the company’s business model would look like in ten years from now. How could the circus disrupt the entertainment industry to sustain its leadership in the coming years?
Some of us suggested incorporating the growing trend of augmented reality to create a semi-virtual circus and offer new home entertainment products. Others envisaged the circus business merging with the tourism industry to created fantasy destinations for people wanting to be an integral part of the circus experience as opposed to just being the audience. Another team saw partnerships with corporate businesses creating conferences and trade show centers that offered world-class entertainment to executives. Even a zero-gravity circus was cogitated to exploit recent advances in technology and allow the audience to participate in the stunts. Ideas abounded and so did the curiosity to see where this creative enterprise will direct its resources in the years ahead.
What other companies can you think of which have disrupted their industries in order to create a brand new category and achieve sustainable competitive advantage? From a marketing perspective, what other types of innovation can you envisage in the Cirque du Soleil business model? And if you are lucky enough to see its new show, do share with us your experience!