Reinventing “Thought Leadership” for the Age of Global Ecommerce

Reinventing “Thought Leadership” for the Age of Global Ecommerce

In 1994, the World Wide Web was brand new, was a startup, eBay was still incubating, and most of the rest of the world’s top internet companies didn’t yet exist. 1994 was also the year that the term “thought leadership” was coined by the magazine Strategy & Business.

Thought leadership is supposed to stand for expertise, for authority on certain topics within a target industry, for smart, forward-thinking leadership in a field. Instead, the term has lost its luster over the years. It seems that these days it’s used in every pitch, presentation, and whitepaper. Sales and marketing teams have run wild with “thought leadership,” and saying that your company is a “thought leader” is a bit like proclaiming yourself heavyweight champion of the world without stepping into the ring.

So where can we go from here? What term can replace “thought leadership” and really bring something meaningful back into the language of Global Commerce? What is a meaningful distinction of leadership that can take a company to the forefront of its industry?

We’d like to propose, “reputational leadership.” A company that is a reputational leader can clearly, loudly, and proudly proclaim that its intentions, capabilities, and values are at the head of the corporate class. The reputational leader is judged by customers and the wider community through transparent means.

In the GRIN’s research, we have found that a major challenge for retailers is vetting global vendors. Most companies don’t have the time, energy, or ability to sift the good from the bad. So we decided to take this common problem and develop a platform that can provide insight into the true reputational leaders of global eCommerce.

Our model has two major benefits. This first is that it allows retailers to make more informed decisions about which vendors best fit their needs. The second is that it gives those vendors direct feedback about how they are doing.

Please join our community at to support the next generation of reputational leaders.

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