Let me pick market leaders like Tesla, Amazon, Google, and Starbucks. All four have been market leaders in their business segments for some time.
Tesla has built a unique product that competitors like the traditional auto companies have not been able to match in terms of quality, uniqueness, innovation, and branding. Elon Musk, the leader, has built Tesla around innovation. The product and the leader are recognized for their ability to create products several steps ahead of competitors. The competitors have been unable to match Tesla.
Amazon is built around innovation too. Amazon, too operates on a scale that competitors are unable to match. Like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos is fearless in exploring and entering areas where very few would like to tread.
Google does not have a central founding figure like Bezos or Musk. The product and service are at the center of customers’ preferences. Constant innovation and consistency of efforts are keeping it ahead in the search and advertisement space. The company does face competition from Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple in certain components of Google’s business. Still, dedication and a constantly evolving business process have helped keep Google ahead of the race.
Starbucks, although in a different market segment, strength lies in its service quality, product consistency, and ability to build a brand whose products are preferred by customers worldwide. Like Google, the value chain, business process, and marketing strategy keep this brand ahead of competitors.
In summary, you will note that rarely one factor makes a brand a market leader. It is a combination of several things. It is, in all cases, a combination of strategy, business model, and marketing strategy.