Don’t Be Fooled: It is marketing of old that was defined as anticipating and meeting customer needs.
What has made this definition redundant is the overwhelming saturation of products and services on the market… so much so that your average consumer today has all his or her basic needs already well and truly met. They simply don’t need anything more.
It’s fairly easy to see why. Just take a stroll down any supermarket aisle and count the number of brands and/or product variations in any given product category. Common sense tells us that consumers really don’t need dozens of different product variations of toothpaste or laundry powder to choose from. And it’s not just detergent products that present an overwhelming array of choice, it’s many other product categories too. It’s little wonder, then, that many producers are required to pay for their shelf space in your local supermarket.
The problem that many of these products face is that they have no real discernable difference in the eyes of the consumer. A cake of soap is a cake of soap, however you try to dress it up. Now producers realise this because they monitor what’s going on through their sales reports. So, to get the product moving, they invest in advertising… and a hefty amount of it.
This of course has led to a second problem… since the products are seen as the same, and they fail to excite the average consumer who is bored with the sameness of it all, and because there is so much advertising going on by so many producers, the consumer begins to feel bombarded by the volume of messages about me-too products.
And then he or she reacts by tuning out of your advertising. Welcome to the dilemma facing modern brands and marketers.
How do you win?
In an environment where the average consumer already has access to more products and services than he or she will ever want (or use) in their lifetime and they have learnt to ignore your advertising messages, how do you win?
It all starts by recognizing that the world has changed and letting go of traditional thought about meeting customers needs, that was yesterday’s news. The better mousetrap is not going to earn your millions, you’re going to have to rely on other cunning.
Because of the saturated environment in which we live, and the plethora of products already filling consumers needs, marketing today is about beating your competitor. Plain and simple. Repeat it over and over.
For existing products with competition in the market, this is about winning the ultimate prize – market share. And you do this by doing the opposite to everyone else so that you offer the consumer a genuine alternative. You win by finding gaps in the market, places where competitors are not servicing target markets well or at all. You win by tailoring products to niches.
If you are launching a brand new concept or product, it needs to be genuinely different to anything else on the market so that you can create a brand new product category. And, if it is genuinely new and no-one else is doing it, you’ll have a better chance at publicity to launch it since the media like to cover stories that are genuinely new.