Growth strategy

Horizontal vs. Vertical Growth Strategy: Which is Best?

Written by Tyler Naples / March 12, 2020

As an Inbound Marketer at Lean Labs, Tyler concepts, implements, and manages strategic and growth-oriented marketing initiatives for industry-leading businesses and organizations. Tyler received a B.A. in English / Professional Writing from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Outside of Lean Labs, Tyler is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. Go Eagles!

Jump to a section:


The most successful businesses and startups commit to ongoing growth.

However, this is easier said than done. There are significant roadblocks that prevent even the most ambitious organizations from achieving their goals.

So, what does this all mean for your business or startup?

In recent years, horizontal and vertical growth have become go-to growth marketing strategies for many of the world's leading brands. In most instances, these growth strategies have produced amazing results.

So, what's the benefit of a horizontal vs. vertical growth strategy, and which approach is right for your unique business or startup?

As an industry-leading growth team, we've helped deserving brands level up. We'll explain the pros and cons of horizontal vs. vertical growth so you can select the right growth strategy for your business.


Horizontal vs. Vertical Growth: Which is Right for Your Brand?


A recent study found that people tasked with remembering one digit made much better decisions than people charged with remembering seven digits. The takeaway here is that rapid business growth can actually be a bad thing.

You need to know that long-term business growth relies on slow, steady, and calculated decision-making. Before you commit to one growth strategy over the other, it's going to take time to start seeing results.

Here are the major differences between horizontal vs. vertical growth.


Horizontal Growth Strategy

Horizontal growth means expanding products/services to new markets. This can be done by developing a new market or penetrating an existing market. Additionally, you might try to apply existing assets to a new business domain, such as transitioning from a product to a SaaS model.

Highly lucrative
Better long-term ROI

Challenges unique to new markets
Increased competition

Example: Uber launched in San Francisco, but later rolled out to thousands of locations across the globe. Additionally, the company launched UberEats.


New call-to-action


Vertical Growth Strategy

A vertical growth strategy means scaling products/services inside an existing market. Typically, businesses add additional features or capabilities to existing products/services. You might also add products/services to complement existing products/services.

Allows you to go deeper into existing markets
Most popular growth strategy

Typically requires more money
Workforce capacity problems

Examples: Instagram is much more than just a photo-sharing app. This tool enables users to share videos. In recent years, they even rolled out a live video recorder.


Horizontal vs. Vertical Growth Strategy: Forge Your Path Towards Business Growth

Your growth strategy is only as strong as the dedicated team used to implement it.

For that reason, many industry-leading businesses and startups go out of the way to find a results-driven growth partner.

Over the years, we've had the opportunity to partner with a ton of deserving brands. From industry-leading tech accelerators to fiber internet providers, we've worked alongside some of the world's leading innovators. Is your business next?

To accelerate growth and dominate your market, your brand must become the leader in perceived value to your market. That cannot be achieved overnight. We take our clients through a three-phased approach to deserving growth: plan, build, & grow.


New call-to-action

Growth strategy

Cut the guesswork. Uncover the foundational elements to launch a successful website that converts leads into sales.


Every Great Growth-Driven Design Project Starts With Strategy

Base your website's strategy on your target audience's needs, problems, questions, and desires, and you will have solid foundation for success.

How do you ensure you've effectively addressed your target audience's key issues, and successfully provided the answers they seek, at each stage of their journey?

The Growth-Driven Design Strategy Kit provides the tools and process we use in our strategy workshops to help clients re-focus on the buyer journey and solve strategic failures through their website and messaging. 

More than just a templated document you fill out, this Strategy Kit goes deep into the foundational elements you need to launch a successful website that converts leads into sales.

In it find:

  • How to Complete Each Step of the Buyer Journey and Align Messaging 
  • Actionable Examples 
  • How to Use The Templates + Strategy to Enhance Your Website and Buyer Journey 
  • Our Client Onboarding Checklist 

Get your free Growth-Drive Design Strategy Kit and learn how to set your brand up for success with the foundational elements you need for an effective website. 

The Growth-Driven Design Strategy Kit will be available on August 30th. Sign up now to receive your copy as soon as it is released.

Growth-Driven Design Strategy Kit

Get growth

Use these lean growth resources to create a plan that fits your goals. Our outsourced growth team is ready to help. 

Growth playbook
Growth playbook
Get in touch
Get in touch
Free growth tools
Free growth tools