Many products and services are completely (or very close to) homogenous, whereby the features offered by different vendors are essentially the same. There are examples of this in every single industry; for example, utility companies all sell the same fuel/water, all clothing manufacturers produce clothes that fulfil the same function, and all smartphones have almost identical features. Despite these products being mostly homogenous, many different companies and brands exist, positioning themselves differently in the market. They can do this by creating the perception of quality, changing the pricing, or trying to find particular groups of customers to sell to.
During the early days of the smartphone, Blackberry thrived by directing its products specifically at business users, whilst Apple sold its iPhone to consumers and creatives, and Android phones offered a lower price aimed at the budget end of the market. This differentiated their products in the market, allowing them to compete with similar products. iGaming companies offer similar games to their customers; the majority have variations of card games like blackjack and poker, as well as casino-style games like slots and roulette. To find a way to differentiate games from other companies, main online casinos operators have many branded games that provide different themes, unique graphics and some changes to the rules. An example of this is Pharaoh’s Wild game. Whilst the basic premise is the same as many other games, it features 5 wheels instead of 3 and has a “Mummy Bonus”, which gets triggered randomly throughout the game.
Failing to differentiate your product will mean that customers will be unable to see any difference between what you and your competitors are selling and offering. This means that you will likely struggle to pick up any significant amount of market share, and success could even be down to fate or chance rather than any business strategy. This, therefore, means you must understand what your customers are looking for, what their priorities and values are, and how you can appeal to these needs.
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The best way to achieve this is to undertake a competitor analysis, where you map out all of the businesses that you are competing against and compare their products/services based on factors like their price, quality, target customers, unique selling points, location, and convenience. There are plenty of templates available online to help you do this.
Once you have mapped out your competitors, you can begin to see whether there are any gaps in the market. For example, if you are a falafel vendor you may see that some of your competitors sell “cheap and cheerful” options, whilst others provide a gourmet dining experience. It could be that your customers may be willing to pay a slightly higher price above the “cheap and cheerful” versions, if you are able to make it more convenient to buy from you.
Therefore, you may begin offering delivery services, allow pre-orders from a website or mobile app, or open new venues that are closer to where your customers are. In this scenario, you have differentiated in a way that makes you more convenient than others in the market. This is a differentiating factor used by brands like McDonald’s, who have used standardisation, “drive-thrus”, and large numbers of outlets to make their restaurants quick, easy and convenient for customers.
Some of the ways you can differentiate your business include:
- Price: you may wish to make yourself the cheapest in the market to attract budget-conscious customers
- Quality: you can use a high-quality product (which typically costs more) as a way to position your product/service as one that is “premium” or “aspirational”
- Speed: you may be able to deliver your product/service faster than others, which could be a benefit to some customers
- Ease and simplicity: make your product easier to use, order, buy, or otherwise enjoy
- Features: you could add new features to your product that set it apart from the competition
- Relationship: if you’re a smaller business, you could offer a more personal service — something not offered by larger, corporate competitors
Differentiating your business, service or product is vital if you are going to survive and succeed. Therefore, it is important to understand what your competitors offer so you can identify gaps in the market that you could position yourself in. Once you have done this, you can begin to demonstrate to your customers how your product is different and how it better meets their needs.