Be Different or Be Gone

Tesla store opening in Westfield Mall, London.

Be Different or Be Gone

No two products are exactly the same. But that’s not what consumers believe. For many, generic products are difficult to separate, so they make choices based on a whole host of reasons. It could be habit, package color, ease of purchase, and of course price. To separate your product from a competitor it’s essential to differentiate your product. If you’re the same as someone else, they will eventually buy someone else. So, marketers must be different or eventually they will be gone.

Two examples of products that separated themselves from the pack: Dr Pepper and Tesla. During the 60’s Dr Pepper was regional brand out of Texas. It had many local fans but the marketers at Dr Pepper wanted to be a national brand. How did they differentiate from giants like Coke and Pepsi? They produced lavish musical commercials. They funded local concerts like Dr Pepper concerts in New York’s Central Park. Dr Pepper became as different as the Byrds or Van Morrison. Differentiating worked. They were as cool as a concert and created a national following, eventually becoming a world-wide brand.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the king of the electric luxury car Tesla. Tesla took a different approach than Mercedes. The world wanted an alternative to cars powered by fossil fuels. Instead of trying to build an affordable car, Tesla created beautifully crafted cars. Then Tesla gambled on changing the car buying experience. They were one of the first car companies to open showrooms at malls. Instead of waiting for customers to come to them at traditional dealerships like every other automobile brand, they became different by going to meet the consumer where consumers shop.

What’s the lesson? People long to be unique. They look for products that can help them achieve a difference and meet their needs. When a brand is able to connect with a consumer at this basic level, the brand becomes an extension of that consumer’s life.