There are still executives out there who seem to believe that success can be had by simply meeting customer needs. Well, perhaps that in itself is not that simple as it takes some effort to first identify a target segment and then conduct some market research to better understand the customer needs. Still, that is no longer sufficient.
Why not? Simple, technology and globalization has enabled more and better competitors from around world to also market to the whole world both online and offline. In such a hypercompetitive environment, you are toast if you just meet customer needs. Selling yet another me-too product just like many others who conducted similar market research studies is not going to cut it.
So, what is the way out of this conundrum? Here’s my favorite marketing term comes into play. The word is differentiation and speaks to the potential for company offerings to not only meet customer needs but also to be perceived as better or different as compared to the offerings of competitors in some regard that the target market actually values and is willing to pay a premium for. Differentiation allows companies to escape the undesirable commoditization trap where you only compete on price with standardized products and services. Hence, the key is to identify in which dimensions you would like to achieve a desirable positioning via differentiation and in my book, without differentiation, we wouldn’t need marketers 🙂