Have you ever been in South East Asia? If so, you’ve heard the expression: “Same, same”?
As you might know, I just came back from Vietnam, a chaotic world where people are trying to make a living by among other things selling handicraft to tourists. It is a paradise for travelers who want to come back home with unique souvenirs or gifts for family and friends.
I was surprised to see that every Vietnamese is an entrepreneur! However, on the same street, all the shops are selling the same thing. For example, one street is the street for shoes. On that street, you will find leather shoes, sport shoes, very fancy high heels, boots, sport sandals, etc. DON’T EVEN TRY TO FIND SOMETHING ELSE THERE: not even shoestrings to go with your fancy new shoes! The street’s name should certainly be called Merell or be sponsored by Nike; I even wonder why they haven’t thought of it…
My experience in this Asian country made me realize the significance of differentiation and having a unique business offer. We live in a century where customers have a lot of choice. Differentiation is one of the elements why customers would choose your product or your service instead of buying your competitors’ product.
Same, Same but…A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT
I recently found an example of good product/branding differentiation. Instead of doing regular make-up, DermaBlendPro has decided to offer a make-up targeting a specific niche: tattoo covering. It is really brilliant since make-up is already over saturated. Moreover, they found the perfect spokesperson for their marketing campaign. If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s time for you to look at a brilliant marketing campaign.
Don’t you think it is more convincing than a kitchen knife infomercial?
A good differentiation, not a “me too”, …
... is a strategy that companies use to gain a competitive advantage. “The sharper your differentiation, the greater your advantage”. Consider Apple and how they distinguished themselves by being innovative with their technologies; think about Starbucks, who were the first to introduce expensive latte with the promise of having the same taste all over the world; consider Dell, with their online selling, just-in-time and supply chain strategies. These companies highly differentiated their strategies, ensuring their sustainable growth over the years. Opportunities to differentiate a company are diverse in every industry: product style, life cycle, features of the product, performance or quality, timing, customization, exceptional pricing strategy, power of your brand, customer service, etc. To find the right element of differentiation can be done first by looking at the business core competencies and chosing an element that will be hard for the competitors to imitate.
You don’t have to be a multinational: An example from my childhood
When I was young, my parents had a grocery store. They were very conservative with their product offering and never made any changes in the place. I was always disappointed when they were not agreeing to sell new products that just came out in the marketplace. I always thought they would lose their customers by not being as trendy as I wished they could be. However, what I didn’t realize was that their differentiation was ensured through their unique customer service: they had that human touch that no competitor in town could offer. My parents’ customers knew they could knock at our house if they needed something from the store outside of the regular business hours (even at 11pm on a Saturday night). My mom would even go for a walk to ensure that one of their customers, who had a broken leg, would get his/her daily newspaper and jar of milk for breakfast. Isn’t it amazing! Some of you might think that they were not busy enough, and they could do some extra…well, they had many kids to take care of so trust me, they were busy.
There is another story (on a larger scale) about business differentiation. I didn’t know that company before starting searching about product differentiation; however, I like how they explain their differentiation strategy. This is Jack in a Box:
Think about it: What are the steps that you are putting in place to ensure that you will strategically make your product/service different from the business next door?