Differentiation Strategy

With the differentiation strategy, the unique attributes and characteristics of a firm’s product (other than the cost) provide value to customers. Because a differentiated product satisfies customers’ unique needs, firms following the differentiation strategy usually charge premium prices. To do this successfully, a firm must truly be unique at something or be perceived as unique. The ability to sell a good or service at a price that exceeds what was spent to create the product’s differentiated features allows the firm to outperform its rivals and earn above average returns.

 Rather than costs, the differentiation strategy’s focus is on continuously investing in and developing features that differentiate a good or service in ways that customers value. Overall, a firm using the differentiation strategy seeks to be different from its compititors along as many dimensions as possible. The less similarity between a firm’s goods or services and those of competitors, the more buffered the firm is from rival’s actions.

 A product can be differentiated in an almost endless number of ways. Unusual features, responsive customer service, rapid product innovations and technological leadership, perceived prestige and status, different tastes, and engineering design and performance are examples of approaches to differentiation. In fact, virtually anything a firm can do to create real or perceived value for customers is a basis for differentiation. The challenge is to identify features that create value for the customer.

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