What Defines an Industry Disruptor?


Source: cccis.com

E-Poll looked at Amazon (the “original”), Airbnb, Tesla, Uber and the disruptor’s disruptor, Netflix. All of these “Decacorns” – former startups with valuations of at least $10 billion – have clearly distinctive attributes in common in our E-Score Brand database.

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  • The attribute A Leader dominates consumer perceptions of disruptor brands, and ranks as a top-five attribute for 18 of the 22 disruptor brands we considered for this analysis. Other commonly chosen attributes to describe disruptors include Practical, Reliable, and of course, Innovative.
  • Advocacy is a must: Each one of the disruptors possess very strong Brand Loyalty and Would Recommend to Friends and Family ratings, and respondents consider these brands Better Than Competitors. Amazon is the top scoring brand for all three attributes among the 2,200 brands in our database.
  • Another example, Tesla’s scores for our key attributes are 3x or more than the automotive industry average, including Cutting Edge (48% v 12%), A Leader (46% v 27%), Innovative (44% v 17%), Bold (34% v 13%) and Green (33% v 5%).  They also add an element reflecting an aspirational quality, Consumer Comments include “My Dream Car” and “a green machine for the future.”

Disruptors Rise to the Top – Quickly

Disruptors show a rapid upward trajectory in Awareness as they emerge from the shadows to challenge the status quo.  However, in other areas, the ride is not as smooth, as incumbents fight back and spread negative comments.  Airbnb is a good example of a brand with a fast trajectory but savvy competitors pushing back and keeping the growth at bay, for now.


  • Airbnb’s Awareness grew 16x in 4 years, from 2% to 32%.
  • After an aggressive counter campaign by competitors, Appeal, Trustworthiness and willingness to Recommend have all dropped, resulting in some negative user comments such as: “Scary,” “Weird,” “Danger waiting to happen.” Interestingly, non-users influenced by the campaigns mostly drive these comments.F
  • However, actual brand users give Airbnb very high scores (82% Appeal and 72% Would Recommend). Who will win out in the end?

Netflix – Not Once, but Twice.

Netflix first dismantled the “brick & mortar” video rental business. Then, just as bandwidth and video streaming were about to make that obsolete, Netflix took a hard left turn and  enabled the advent of binge viewing television – thus completely changing the paradigm of appointment viewing. What is unique about this shift is that while most disruptors weaken or cripple the existing business models, scripted series orders are 3 times what they were a decade ago and the quality is considered the best it’s ever been.

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  • House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Stranger Things, The Crown – just a few examples of award-winning original Netflix hits. Netflix Appeals to more than 3 in 5 (62%) people and more than half Would Try Brand’s New Products/Services (53%) and Would Recommend to Friends/Family (52%).
  • Consumer Comments reflect Netflix’s pioneering ways: “Amazing, ground breaking company,” “Great company, great ideas,” and “Convenient way to watch tv without tv.”

Netflix shines even when compared to a basket of other notable disruptors, including these 22 brands.



E-Score Brand has previously tracked disruptors in the financial services and TV industries, and we will continue to track emerging disruptors in every industry such as the movie subscription service Movie Pass, which is currently making headlines. In business today, you’re either a disruptor or a target, and whichever side you’re on, E-Score Brand has the data you need to understand the market and the competition.

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Feel free to utilize these infographics in your social shares or other uses. To download, simply click the images and right-click, or pull the full sized images.Brand Disruptors.png airbnb chart.png Netflix Attributes.png

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