What Is A Challenger Brand?


5&Vine – The Strategy That Toppled Goliath

A challenger brand is defined not by its size, but by its aim to upend the status quo in its chosen industry. Companies like Beyond Meat, Everlane and Warby Parker demonstrate how a small but dedicated team with a great idea can knock the pins out from under the fiercest market giants. These challengers believe there is a better way, and fight relentlessly to transform their visions into reality.

Challenger Brands Fight Smarter

By definition, a challenger brand is not the category leader. They must fight from a position behind incumbents to win customers and, ultimately, prized market share.

Rooting for underdogs is in our DNA. In one recent scientific study on support for sports teams, people tended to root for the underdog 88.1 percent of the time. The reality is, however, that most underdogs stay underdogs whenever an industry giant has secured a chokehold on value chains, distribution channels, and media coverage. Peeling away customers from a monolithic and iconic brand can take years unless someone introduces a dramatic change that wins the hearts of consumers, often by solving a problem they didn’t even know they had.

David vs. Goliath - The Original Challenger

The fight of a challenger brand can be compared to the classic tale of David and Goliath – an underdog in a seemingly weaker position that is suddenly capable of conquering its adversary. With a little research and a lot of ingenuity, David found Goliath’s weakness and used it to his advantage to topple the giant.

The name 5&Vine pays homage to the nontraditional tools that contributed to David's victory – 5 stones from a river and a slingshot made of twine. This metaphor guides our approach: we evaluate the strengths of our client and the vulnerabilities of their industry incumbent to uncover our client’s ‘5&Vine'.

Do You Have What It Takes To Win?

Challenger brands need a proven challenger brand CMO. One that balances a deep understanding of Goliath with the hacker ethos of a startup. Invest in a seasoned full-time CMO too early and you accelerate your burn too quickly; too late, and momentum is halted. The solution: engage 5&Vine as your fractional CMO and strategic marketing team.

We partner with brands driven by profit and purpose with incredible missions, including raising a new generation of financial literate children with Greenlight, helping every student find their place in the world with Kira Talent, accelerating the adoption of clean energy with Sengled and building L.A.’s newest superfood brand with Xicama.

Are you an underdog looking to triumph? Engage us as your fractional CMO to achieve profitable growth.