How Canon used the New Lanchester Strategy to defeat Xerox


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By far the most important aspect of the Lanchester Strategy is the need for concentration. In most cases for startups, that means splitting your much larger opponent’s force into pieces and then taking on each piece separately. For you military historians out there, it’s exactly what Lord Nelson did to win the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars. Facing the combined fleets of France and Spain with his numerically inferior force, Nelson split the superior enemy fleet into two and then proceeded to bring a decisive concentration of force to the rear of the Franco-Spanish fleet. After decisively winning that first part of the battle, he went after the rest of the enemy fleet. In the end, the Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost.

One hundred and seventy five years later, the Japanese multinational corporation Canon utilized a similar strategy in their conquest of Xerox for the lucrative photocopier market in the U.K. Facing a overwhelming rival in Rank Xerox (the U.K. Xerox corporate subsidiary), Canon got a foothold in the market by first concentrating its resources in Scotland. After achieving a 40% market share there. Canon then began to attack selected and tightly defined regions in England. All the while, Canon began to invest more and more in both product development in order to differentiate their product and in expanding their marketing and sales staff. By the time Canon began their final push into the lucrative London market, they had a superior product and a numerically superior salesforce. Rank Xerox didn’t stand a chance – by the time they realized what was happening, they had very little time to react.

Here’s the takeaway: The essence of New Lanchester Strategy is essentially one of “Divide and Conquer”. If you can split the enemy force into multiple elements and then attack one part at a time, you will maximize the concept of concentration. It’s all about committing the maximum amount of your resources against the minimum amount of your enemy.


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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Lefler
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group -- a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster by providing unique value at the product level: specifically product marketing, pricing, and innovation. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.


  1. Mr Patrick has nicely and lucidly put up his ideas on the New Lanchester Strategy adopted by Canon to defeat the rival group.
    Proper understanding og Competitor’s strenghts and finally planning to win is the name of the game to grow the business.
    Similarly to grow in uncontested markets as blue ocean strategy also offers rich dividends particularly in developing countries .
    The business has to grow tith sustainable competitive differentiating ideas with long term focus on sound lines.
    Best wishes

  2. Source materials available at
    and on Amazon:
    New Lanchester Strategy Vol 1 by Shinichi Yanno
    New lanchester Strategy Vol 2 by Shinichi Yanno
    New Lanchester Strategy Vol 3 by Shinichi Yanno
    Lanchester Strategy, an Introduction by Dr. Onoda
    Lanchester Theory by Dr Taoka
    Lanchester Readings Vol 1 Edited by J. Schuler … reprint status
    Lanchester Readings Vol 2 Edited by John Schuler…in preparation
    Aircraft in Warfare, new edition by F.W. Lanchester, updated by John Schuler

    John Schuler
    Lanchester Press
    California USA.


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