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Topic: Strategy

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When Is Differentiation A Marketing Strategy?

Posted by Anonymous on 25 Points
A particular style and styling of it will influence buyers choice of products in the regular domestic interior lighting market (table, stand, wall, pendant - lights)

Therefore, styling can be/will be of significance in this market.

I do not think though that you can plan a marketing strategy based on differentiaion on styling.

Because everybody differentiates on styling, it's the norm.

Is this true? Or can styling be a basis for a general marketing strategy? Thanks.

  • Posted on Member
    Try offering "me-too" products, ones that look, feel and work like others your potential customers can buy anywhere, then see how long you'll be in business.

    Success - and therefore growth - depends on differentiation.

    But don't confuse a variety of style(s) with true differentiation. If you produce various styles of lamps that are only equal in quality to (rather than better crafted than) your competition, you'll become known for your "me-too" lamps.

    Now tru to grow such a business. It's like pushing a boulder up a hill. Perhaps doable, but extremely difficult at best.

    For Results You Can Take To The Bank!
  • Posted by prhyatt on Member
    The style of the products you offer can be one of several differentiators to the extent that it helps you position your company. For example, if you position yourself as a company that targets young budget-oriented customers with a taste for retro design, then certainly your product selection and styling would reflect this. At the other extreme, if you target the upscale-to-the-point-of-ostentation customer, then your styling would not only be more formal in look; it would also be of a higher quality and would be styled to attract attention.

    Even types of lighting will reflect whether you position your company as current and fashionable (pendant) or traditional (classic 1-piece chandeliers and hanging fixtures). I hope this helps.
  • Posted by MonMark Group on Member
    You may not want to differentiate on style, since that is the "norm"...but, you may want to differentiate on the diversity of styles, or the quantity and delivery of diverse styles, most popular styles, unique can take differentiation on many areas.

    Are you the manufacturer, or are you the retailer?

  • Posted on Author
    This is how I see the domestic interior lighting market:

    The question is, what is a "me too" in that market.

    I ask that qustion, because if you go to say a lighting centre there you will see, within a certain style of table lamp (say), a great difference in styling - no table lamp will look the same. Of course, producers intuitively think about making an eye-catching product - within the price range. Which is a matter of design/styling. So, in this, differentiation is sort of inbuilt. Not only true of the domestic interior lighting market.

    But, this not to say, it seems, in theoretical terms at least, that the producer has decided on a strategy of differentiation. That's what it looks like to me (a layman) from a sort of theoretical POV.

    But at the same time, one almost feels, because styling is so important, that styling could be used as a focus of a diffentiation strategy.

    Of course differentiation on quality may well touch on styling.

    As to what RWM says about a plan for diversity of styles, or popularity on styles etc, yes, that is something to think about regarding styles. I see styles here as sort of like market segements, within which a producer is free to produce a "take" on that style, which becomes reflected in the styling.

    So within a certain style that's where the competition is going on, and besides issues of quality, price, technology, service, packaging (the usual suspects for a marketing strategy) there is this hugely important issue of styling.

    But althought it seems really important I'm finding it hard to thing of styling as a true market strategy.

    So, I'm just wondering what folks think.

    I think styling (a particular "take" on a style) might be one of those nebulous issues, important, but hard to pin down, with great precision.
  • Posted on Author
    I can see that I need to make desisions about what type and style of lighting I'd make as a producer.

    But, it seems to me that it's the styling of what I make that is going to win people over.

    So, I have this big concern over styling.
  • Posted on Author
    Let me explain better.

    The focus is on the physical product itself (table lamp whatever).

    *Let's say that we are just talking about making table lamps only.*

    It seems to me that the critical factor in competition is visual appeal of the products. That within a certian style of table lamp, competition is a matter of styling (or simply - the design).

    I've been reading Strategic Maketing Management (1995). I was looking (p241) at Porter's Three Generic Competitive Strategies (Cost-Differentiation-Focus).

    Differentiation: "By persuing a strategy of differentiation, the organization gives emphasis to a particular element of the marketing mix that is seen by customers to be important and that as a result provides a meaningful basis for competitive advantage."

    Marketing mix - Product, Price, Promotion, Distribution.

    Okay, so we are talking about styling and differentiation, and that goes to Product in this case.

    Question: Can you have a strategy of differentiation in a table lamp producing company?

    The problem is, I think, that when you visit a lighting centre you see that every table lamp product is differentiated in a visual sense. And perhaps the crux of the matter is that scope for differentiation is limited, because differentiation in practice amounts to one thing, a different visual experience. Of course, that is what everyone is focusing on.

    I think then this is the situation in the case where a company makes table lamps: If differentiation is limited to the visual aspects of the product, (and that tends to be the case) then it's hard to see how, *in marketing theory at least* it's possible to base a strategy on differentiation. Because there is no real scope.

    Yet, everybody knows that (in a certain price range) diffentiation-in-the-visual, is the primary basis on which companies fight it out.

    We seem to have a situation where there is a need and there is great focus on visually differentiating one's products in order to successfully compete, but it's not possible (at least in theory) to have a market strategy based in diffentiation of this (visual) nature.

    Unless someone can see how *visual differentiation* could amount to a differentiation strategy. But I cannot see it.

    I think if you talk about styles of lamp, (not styling) that could be different.

    I can see if you put a radio in a table lamp, that could amount to a differentiation strategy. But, if it's just a matter of visual styling, I cannot see any differentiation strategy possible.

    Also, it's hard (for me at least) to grasp the idea of a "me too" product.

    If I say I'm going to make a table lamp in a certain price range, I'll naturally create a styling which will be different from competitors. To me, it's just going to be another "me too" product - despite the necessary differentiation in the styling.

    When would a table lamp *not* be a "me too" product? Can anyone please give any examples *based soley on the visual physical design* of a table lamp (ie the Product)?

    I'm not saying there is no scope to have a strategy of differentiation with a table lamp. Putting a radio in a table lamp would be suffice. I just cannot see one based on visual styling only. But you might be able to see something that would qualify.

    I'm assuming competition is within a market segement, such as traditional table lamps, or tiffany table lamps etc. What's *not* a "me too" if I stlyed and made tiffany lamps?
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    In my opinion, it's not about the lamp - it's about the people who are likely to want your lamp. The style of the lamp can appeal to people looking for a retro look, or a refined look, or for their dorm room, etc. The same lamp may fit into many niches, but your goal is to make it easy for those looking for "that look" to find your products.
  • Posted by Peter (henna gaijin) on Member
    For table lamps, there seems to be 3 main ways they differentiate - product innovation, style, and cost. Ignoring innovation (say, using LEDs instead of bulbs), as this doesn't seem common, it comes down to style and cost that most are using. Given the number of lamps on the market, it does seem that differentiating on style does work for at least some.

    This sounds similar to the jeans market. You either sell cheap jeans through places like WalMart or CostCo, or expensive jeans through places like the mall stores. All are made of denim tied together with thread, so the only difference is style. Yet some companies do get to sell their jeans for big bucks, and are making a viable business out of it. So differentiating on style could work.

    There could be differentiation on quality, but that seems to be a minor point in table lighting. You just don't hear of them breaking (IMHO).

    "Me too" is where someone copies something done by another. Sometimes it isn't possible if there is intellectual property protection (such as if there is a patent protecting a novel design), but I suspect this isn't common in lighting. But "me too" designs may not show up just because the lighting store may filter these out - they have limited space, so only want to display one product of a certain design, rather than using up the space for 2 products of the similar designs.
  • Posted on Author
    I think I got it.

    Where the issue involves a marketing strategy of differentiation, and where the focus is on the Product part of the marketing mix, and the styling of it - you need to *discover the opportunity for having a strategy of differentiation*. You don't simply decide on a strategy of differentiation in these particular circumstances.

    Here factual diferentiation in stlying is not the main issue, it's the perception of a differentiated product by the buyers that matter. Only when you "prove" an opportunity to have a strategy of differentiation (in this case, in styling) can you have one.

    This is not the case with other strategies such as to be a quality leader, or cost leader etc, or even differentiation. It all depends on what basis you want the differentiation to be based upon. When one is thinking about differentiation based on styling, that calls for finding out what the customer thinks would be a differentiated product.

    So, you have a strategy of differentiation based on styling. But first find out what the public things is a *stylistically differentiated product*.

    That's my best stab at the problem.

    I think I've figured it.
  • Posted on Author
    Okay I'm giving my point to Jay Hamilitn Roth:


    "In my opinion, it's not about the lamp - it's about the people who are likely to want your lamp."

    This is the crucial issue.

    When you think about having a differentiation strategy, based on Product, in relation to styling, (these very particular circumstances) what matters is buyer's perception. Buyer's perception indeed could make such a differentiation strategy meaningless or ineffective. Cetainly, what is differentiation, what is not a "me too" product must come from the buyers.

    Also, we are in the realm of aspiring. The results will be sucess, no success or partial success. In the particulars of the case, you don't just decide to have a strategy of differentiation.

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