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Does “Unique Competitive Differentiation” Exist?

Who is doing a remarkable job in using product, price, promotion and/or place to consistently deliver a unique, valuable customer experience that is competitively defensible?

I am teaching an undergraduate course in marketing channels (distribution) at Towson University this Fall and one of the strong themes coming from the textbook author and other subject matter experts is that very few organizations have developed or implemented a unique, competitively differentiated strategic approach to channel marketing.

As a matter of fact, most of the experts state that organizations typically ‘fall into’ distribution channels and deal with whatever happens.

This got me wondering about the other P’s – product, price and promotion.

Many products appear to be built because someone could build them and that tends to create a ‘solution in search of a problem’ scenario.? Nothing uniquely valuable for any specific audience (outside the designer of the product), but lots of little things that might appeal to just about everyone.

As for price, there seems to be three popular approaches – [a] “low cost” which tends to handcuff manufacturing to building the best they can with the limited resources made available, [b] “cost plus %” which is used less often in recent years because so few organizations have a true handle on what the real costs are, and [c] “competitor leveling” which is also known as “whatever our perceived competition is charging, plus or minus 10%”.

Not a whole bunch of ‘unique’ and ‘competitively defensible’ in those approaches.

And then there is promotion…or, as so many believe, ‘marketing’.? With the focus on ‘colors and fonts’ placed higher than ‘delivering the right message to the right person at the right time via the right channel in order to motivate the right response’, promotion does tend to be more about features and unique presentation mainly because [a] you have to know who your audience is and what they need and want in order to address benefits, and [b] unique presentation is way more fun than exercising discipline and focusing on benefits, call to action and offers.

So, in your opinion, who is doing a remarkable job in using product, price, promotion and/or place to consistently deliver a unique, valuable customer experience that is competitively defensible?

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