Offensive Defensive Strategies

Offensive Defensive Strategies - considering strategic options from a competitor rather than customer orientation is referred to as competitive marketing strategy. Kotler and Singh identified five offensive and six defensive strategies – these are named after military strategies.

Offensive warfare

1. Frontal attack – This is the direct, head on attack meeting competitors with the same product line, price, promotion, etc. Because attack is on the enemy’s strengths rather than weakness it is considered the most risky and least advised strategy.
2. Flanking attack – The aim here is to engage competitors in those products markets where they are weak or have no presence at all. Its overreaching goal is to build a position from which to launch, an attack on the battlefield later.
3. Encirclement attack – Multi pronged attack aimed at diluting the defenders ability to retaliate in strength. The attacker stands ready to block the competitor no matter which way he turns the product market. Product proliferation supplying different types of the same product to the market. Market encirclement consists of expanding the products into all segments and distribution channels.
4. Bypass attack – This is the most indirect form of competitive strategy as it avoids confrontation by moving into new and as yet uncontested fields. Three type of bypass are possible; develop new products, diversify into unrelated products or diversify into new geographical markets.
5. Guerilla warfare – Less ambitious in scope, this involves making small attacks in different locations whilst remaining mobile. Such attacks take several forms. The aim is to destabilize the competitor by small attacks.

Defensive warfare

1. Position defence – static defence of a current position, retaining current product markets by consolidating resources within existing areas. Exclusive reliance on a position defence effectively means that a business is a sitting target for competition.
2. Mobile defence – A high degree of mobility prevents the attackers chances of localizing the defence and accumulating its forces for a decisive battle. A business should seek market development, product development and diversification to create a stronger base.
3. Pre-emptive defence – Attack is the best form of defence. Pre-emptive defence is launched in a segment where an attack is anticipated instead of moving into related or new segments.
4. Flank position defence – This is used to occupy a position of potential future importance in order to deny that position to an opponent. Leaders need to develop and hold secondary markets to prevent competitors from using them as a spring board into the primary market.
5. Counter offensive defence – This is attacking where the company is being attacked. This requires immediate response to any competitor entering a segment or initiating new moves.
6. Strategic withdrawal.


It might be the right decision to cease producing a product and/ or to pull out of a market completely. This is a hard decision for managers to take if they have invested or if the decision involves redundancies.

Exit barriers make this difficult.a. Cost barriers include redundancy costs, the difficulty of selling assets.
b. Managers might fail to grasp the principles of opportunity costing
c. Political barriers includes government attitudes
d. Marketing considerations may delay withdrawal
e. Psychology – managers hate to admit failure

Reasons for exita. The company’s business may be buying firms turning them around and selling them at a profit.
b. Resource limitations mean that less profitable businesses have to be abandoned. A business might be sold to a competitor or occasionally to management.
c. A company may be forced to close because of insolvency.
d. Change of competitive strategy.
e. Decline in attractiveness of the market.
f. Funds can earn more elsewhere.

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