The Difference Between Competitive Advantages and 7 Powers (Jeff’s Asia Tech Class – Podcast 65)


This week’s podcast is my third on the well-known 7 Powers framework by Hamilton Helmer. I go through the last 4 of his 7 powers.

You can listen to this podcast here or at iTunesGoogle Podcasts and Himalaya.

His fundamental equation of value is:

Value = M0*g*s*m = market scale * power

  • M0 is Market at time zero. g is growth. This is about targeting big and growing market opportunities.
  • S is long-term persistent market share. How much of it you have
  • M is long term persistent margins. (operational margins after cost of capital)
  • You can also do potential value = market scale * power.

His break-down of branding is that it evokes positive emotion, leading to increased willingness to pay.

  • Affective valence. Built-up associations that elicit good feeling that are distinct from the objective value of the good.
  • Uncertainty reduction. Peace of mind because confidence the product will be as expected.
  • A brand requires lengthy period of time with reinforcing actions (hysteresis). Legacy brands tend to be powerful. Hard to replicate in short term. Or with copycats.

His break-down of cornered (or scarce) resource is that it must be sufficiently potent to drive high-potential, persistent differential margins (m>>0), with operational excellence spanning the gap between potential and actual. He has five screening tests for cornered resource:

  • Idiosyncratic. Such as a brain trust with repeated success over time.
  • Nonarbitraged. If a firm gains preferential access to a coveted resource but also pays a price that fully arbitrages out the rents attributable to this resource – then doesn’t matter.
  • Transferable. If resources creates value at one company, but cannot if transferred to another, then it is not good. Probably has an essential complement.
  • Ongoing.
  • Sufficient. It must be complete enough to continue producing differential returns assuming operational excellence.

Related podcasts and articles are:

From the Concept Library, concepts for this article are:

  • Competitive Advantage: Share of Consumer Mind
  • Competitive Advantage: Surplus Margin Leader in Network Effects
  • Competitive Advantage: Proprietary Technology
  • Competitive Advantage: Learning Advantages and Process Advantage
  • Competitive Advantage: Scarce Resource
  • 7 Powers

From the Company Library, companies for this article are:

  • None
This is part of Learning Goals: Level 7, with a focus on:
  • 35: Competitive Advantage

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash


I write, speak and consult about how to win (and not lose) in digital strategy and transformation.

I am the founder of TechMoat Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that helps retailers, brands, and technology companies exploit digital change to grow faster, innovate better and build digital moats. Get in touch here.

My book series Moats and Marathons is one-of-a-kind framework for building and measuring competitive advantages in digital businesses.

Note: This content (articles, podcasts, website info) is not investment advice. The information and opinions from me and any guests may be incorrect. The numbers and information may be wrong. The views expressed may no longer be relevant or accurate. Investing is risky. Do your own research.


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