Some companies develop a product marketing strategy by differentiating their offerings. While others focus on cost and offer standard products. Both can be successful in gaining competitive advantage. How did they develop it? What should they focus on?
Many businesses market products with the same core benefits. They compete with each other for the same customers. If successful, they can generate more revenue than competitors. In doing so, their product must be superior to competitors’ offerings in satisfying customers.
Then, the company must develop a unique selling proposition. Apart from attracting consumers, it also differentiates its products from competitors’ products. They have to think about how to attract customers and differentiate their products from those of competitors, whether price, function, quality, or appearance. If they are successful in competing and generate above-average profitability, we call them a competitive advantage.
Basic strategies for achieving competitive advantage
In general, companies must design a successful competitive strategy to gain a competitive advantage. And, in this case, Michael Porter, through his generic strategy, provides the foundation for how companies compete. Two alternative competitive strategies:
- Differentiation . This strategy emphasizes uniqueness, for example by differentiating function, quality, or product design. It can attract customers and make them willing to pay a high price. Therefore, when adopting this strategy, the company will offer consumers a premium price, enabling them to enjoy high margins per unit.
- Cost leadership. The company emphasizes a lower cost structure than the industry average. Lower costs allow the company to offer its products within the industry average range. Different from a differentiation strategy, cost leadership allows a company to sell products at high volumes, even though the margin per unit is low.
Some companies may apply the above strategy in key markets, where the market size is large. But, in this market, the company faces many competitors.
Meanwhile, others may target a niche market, where the market size is relatively small with specific customer needs. Porter calls this strategy a focus strategy.
Key aspects for developing a product marketing strategy
The marketing mix tells you how a company can develop unique selling proportions. It requires companies to consider four aspects: product, price, place and promotion.
Next, because it is intangible, the marketing strategy for services is often different from that for goods. For this reason, marketing experts add 3 other aspects to consider: people, processes and physical evidence.
It is about how the company designs the physical aspect as attractive as possible. It can be related to features, quality, design, branding, packaging, and labeling. These aspects may be irrelevant for services because they are intangible.
Next, how to design these aspects? It depends on the market targeted by the company. Marketing a mass product can be different from a differentiated product.
Businesses compete on price when selling bulk products. They design products with standard features and quality, which are relatively similar to competing products in the market.
On the other hand, differentiated products require uniqueness, which is a reason for customers to be willing to pay higher prices than bulk products.
The company chooses the right pricing strategy to attract customers. It can be cost-based, competitive or market-based pricing. Either way, in theory, the price should equal the value the customer gets from using the product.
Various factors are considered when setting prices, including answering the following questions:
- How much does it cost to produce?
- What does the target consumer profile look like?
- What types of products are offered? Mass product or differentiated product?
- Is it targeting a new market or an existing one?
- What pricing strategies are competitors adopting?
- What about the price elasticity of demand?
Promotions must convince consumers “buying the company’s products is the right choice”. Companies must think about how to attract new customers, remind existing customers and encourage them to buy the product. In other words, it represents the way companies communicate information about products to consumers. It can involve advertising, special offers, sponsorship, and public relations activities. Another important aspect is packaging.
- The company combines the marketing mix to influence the way consumers perceive the product. They can attract new customers to buy. Or, encourage existing customers to repurchase the product. Finally, promotion is a powerful way to influence customer perception.
The place aspect relates to how to deliver products at the right time and place when consumers need them. For example, for manufacturers, they have to make decisions about distribution channels, do they sell direct or rely on intermediaries? Is it necessary to develop sales through online channels?
The decision about place is strategic for some businesses because it has a significant impact on costs and revenue potential. Take retail and restaurants for example. Located in the city center can attract a lot of customers due to the high population density. However, buying or renting land in such a location can incur substantial costs.
Companies must make decisions about how to select and ensure the right people interact and build long-term relationships with customers. Staff need not only communication skills, but also appearance and the ability to understand what they have to offer.
The people aspect is vital in marketing services. They are the ones who deliver the service. And how satisfied are the customers? It depends on how well they do their job.
Because services are unique each time they are provided, companies must ensure their staff does their best for each service they provide. It requires training and development to make them proficient. And before that, it requires proper recruitment to ensure the highest quality staff.
Process decisions are about how the company develops the procedures and mechanisms used to deliver services. The process is also what the customer goes through when using a service.
An easy and efficient process convinces customers to continue using the company’s products over competitors’ products. It can be related to communication channels through which consumers can contact the company and to submit questions, for example it can be through the web or other channels. Another aspect is payment, whether there is self-service checkout, online tracking, transfer or cash payment.
This aspect requires companies to design the physical elements in which services are provided, for example spatial planning, facility arrangement, signage and interior design. Such elements are important because companies must make customers comfortable when using the company’s products.
Physical evidence can present a quality image. It affects the emotions of customers, even before they actually use the service. Take restaurants for example. They visit there not only looking for the menu they like but looking for the atmosphere they want. Aspects such as furniture, lighting, tableware, and scenery are what they consider.