Monday, February 25th, 2013

George Kingsley Zipf On Becoming A Category Leader

Zipf's Law

In the 1930s, Harvard linguist George Kingsley Zipf found that the most-used English word - the - occurs about one-tenth of the time in a typical text; the next most common word - of - occurs about half as often as the first; the third most common word - and - occurs about one-third as often as the first.

What emerged was Zipf's Law, one of probability distribution, asserting that the frequencies of certain events are inversely proportional to their rank.

The New York Times discussed a study validating Zipf's Law as it applies to brands, quoting Jan H. Hofmeyr, a behavioral expert:

"Marketers have always known it's better to be No. 1 than No. 2, but now you can attach a revenue consequence to that.

With this approach, the moment you determine a brand's ranking, you can predict the market share."

An example of Zipf's Law is found in the Number One / Number Two strategy initiated by Jack Welch early in his tenure as CEO of GE. If a GE business wasn't first or second in its markets worldwide, or couldn't be made so, it would be sold.

How might any product or business become Number One or Number Two in its markets?

With a hat tip to George Zipf, by use of Own The Conversation® strategy.

[Image: Laura H. Azran. Source: ICI

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