The article is authored by Shravya Gunipudi and is the second prize winner of December article writing contest conducted by Marketing Bloggers
In the day and age of below-the-belt sales tactics and half-truths in marketing strategies, finding the balance between what is morally right and also commercially successful is the tricky thing to do. At the same time, all organizations constantly find themselves trying to juggle healthy competition, intense strategies and the unending cycle of deadlines as they strive to climb the mountain of financial gain to the top before the rest of them.
Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job. – Roy Bartell
When it comes to differentiation, every seller gets overly competitive. Be it Sankranthi, Ramzan or Christmas, the sales are out there as companies get into a neck to neck struggle trying to beat the rest.
Big Bazaar, the flagship store of Kishore Biyani’s future group, has managed to achieve a standing in the market for its clever differentiation in terms of pricing strategies. With challenges of ‘The lowest Prices’, they’ve managed to attract a large section of the crowds.
In terms of Technological upgrades, we have ‘Godrej’ coming up with new inventions of energy efficient and eco-friendly appliances that attract the crowds for its innovative ideas and clever sales tactics.
Similarly, when I think about user experience, electronic shopping through channels like Flipkart, eBay and Amazon come to mind. These have ruled the e-shopping markets and have conquered a majority of the shoppers who prefer the convenience of their homes for doing all their shopping. Likewise, we have Big Basket for groceries.
The term ‘Product Differentiation’ brings food to my mind. Be it chips from the Frito-Lays group, ITC Sunfeast’s Biscuits or even PepsiCo’s drinks, variety in product is uncountable. With stiff competition and stressful consumer expectations, one wonders how these companies manage to stay on top.
Coming up on number five, we have customer service. This includes both prior and after sales services. To me, that would mean the hospitality and the customer satisfaction that is provided in turn for the customer’s loyalty. What better example than that of automobiles? Japan’s Honda, India’s Maruti, US’s Ford are all out to compete for the best servicing needs for the requirement of the consumer.
That, finally, brings me to my point. With so many competitors trying to aim for the top spot in the market using these five parameters, there isn’t much scope for innovation left. What is required is for the restrictions to be removed. Who said that there must only be five levels of differentiation? Why not have a sixth one?
Lo and behold, my sixth level of differentiation. Need Creation.
This, I strongly feel, needs to be done in a Tailor-Made way.
The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi
Most consumers are used to looking out for products that are less expensive. Price is the major deciding factor of a product’s value. To beat that, you need to make the consumer feel like coughing up that extra buck to get your product. Here’s how.
I believe that if a consumer feels like he needs a product to an extent where the other factors do not matter to him, then that job is well done.
“People buy for their reasons, not yours.” ― Abby Donnelly
Need creation involves all the other five levels of differentiation in one way or another.
It involves constant innovation.
Let’s take an example.
Diwali is around the corner. You’re selling shirts.
You design the shirt in different colours (Product) with cracker prints and diyas using machines like printing operators (Technology). As you are marketing the product, you offer for the customers to try it on (User Experience) and see for themselves how vibrant it makes them look. You tell them that you’re the only shop selling these kinds of shirts and you’re charging them for the uniqueness of the product (Pricing). Also tell them that they’re free to return it to you within ten days of purchase with a valid reason for it (Customer Service). Once you’ve managed to convince them that the product is suited to their requirements and that they’re better with it than without, your job is done.
One thing that many sellers and marketers fail to remember is that not every consumer’s need is the same. Some sort of creative difference is required while marketing a product or service to a consumer.
Every brand isn’t for everybody, and everybody isn’t for every brand. – Liz Lange
For example, if you owned an electronics enterprise and a newly married couple walked in during Sankranthi, marketing strategies would have to be used very carefully. Here, the aim would be to show the wife how useful the product would be for her while explaining the economic feasibility to the husband. Need would have to be created in such a way that the customers would walk out of the shop buying more than they intended to in the festive spirit.
Similarly, for a family of four or more, the tactics would have to be changed and remodelled in such a way that need is created in a tailor made method.
“Stop selling. Start helping.”
In the end, the most important objective is to ensure that customer satisfaction is achieved in the most effective and efficient way. So, the next time a consumer walks in, analyse him carefully and then play your cards right. Who knows, if you do it properly, he might walk out with half the shop!