If consumers can’t tell the difference between your brand and your competitors, you’re in trouble. They’ll choose whichever product has the lowest price, because they don’t have any reason to favor your brand over another. Your product is simply a commodity. And that’s a problem.
Sometimes this happens because there’s nothing remarkable about the products in your space. They all look and function the same. But it can also happen when your brand used to have unique qualities that everyone else imitated.
When your brand’s unique benefits and values become commonplace, your brand has become a commodity. At PriceSpider, we help brands protect their prices and keep pricing irregularities from hurting their brand integrity. But if your brand becomes a commodity, you may have a hard time justifying your price to consumers in the first place.
Here are four ways to keep your brand from becoming a commodity—so you can be more confident that your price is worth protecting.
1. Build on the benefits of your brand
Brand commoditization happens when your brand is indistinguishable from the other brands in your space. Whether your brand has been around for decades or just months, it’s crucial that you know and leverage the things that set your brand apart.
The benefits of your brand may be less tangible. The qualities that first come to mind when consumers think of you are the result of their collective experiences with your marketing, your products, and your company. Maybe they associate you with quality. Or sustainability. Toughness. Or convenience.
Your brand benefits could also simply be an extension of what your organization does well. The values you instill in your employees often ripple into the way you interact with customers. Maybe you’ve nailed the return process, or made it incredibly easy for customers to replace faulty products for free when they purchase from a retailer. What do your decisions, policies, and internal values contribute to your larger brand story?
Whatever your brand benefits are, you need to build on them continually. Reinforce those benefits in your messaging and fit them into a cohesive story. What do your competitors say about themselves? How do your benefits allow you to position your brand differently?
In the world of phone cases, numerous brands have emerged to help consumers keep their smartphones safe. But from the beginning, Otterbox established itself as the gold standard of protection. Other brands have tapped into Otterbox’s key benefit, but Otterbox has continued building on its strengths and retained its perception of durability, which justifies its higher price points.
2. Invest in relationships with customers
When someone buys from you and uses your product, they’ll hopefully prefer your brand in the future. Ideally, they’ll tell their friends and family about you. But buying and using your product shouldn’t be the only experience a customer has with your brand.
Customer loyalty programs that offer discounts and perks can be a great way to encourage repeat customers. And creating helpful content to share with customers can increase top-of-mind awareness, so that your customers think of you right away when their friends and family talk about problems you solve or goals you empower people to achieve.
Creating videos, how-to-guides, and other resources can help customers maximize the value of their purchase and establish thought leadership, which makes it easier for consumers to differentiate your brand from your competitors. When they go to purchase a product in a category you compete in, they’ll not only be more conscious of your brand, but they’ll associate your brand with something helpful, insightful, or enjoyable that they’ve read, watched, or listened to.
Developing a good relationship with your customers helps ensure that next time they buy something in your niche, price is less likely to be the only factor in the buying decision.
3. Evaluate your competitors
If consumers perceive brands in your category as interchangeable, your brand is effectively a commodity. You need to stand out. And that means it’s time to take a closer look at your competitors.
For starters, you may want to simply evaluate your competitors websites, advertising, and marketing materials. How do they position themselves? What key factors are they calling attention to? Is there something they avoid talking about? What concerns do they appear to be addressing in FAQ or support pages?
But you should also pay attention to what their customers are saying. Are there common complaints and frustrations? Have any thought leaders or review sites talked about their brand or products?
As you explore how your competitors talk about themselves and examine the public reaction to them, you should start to see opportunities to position your brand and your products as a better choice. It may be as simple as adding a supporting point or an additional section to your product page. Or it could lead you to completely overhaul your messaging. But if you want customers to look beyond the price tag to decide between you and your competitors, you have to help them see the difference.
4. Never stop innovating
If you want your brand to stay competitive, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels—even if you’ve created a product or established a brand that has revolutionized your industry. Because any time you accomplish something that changes the game, your competitors are going to follow suit. And just because you have a lead doesn’t mean you’re going to keep it forever. You have to keep fighting for your differentiating factors and doing the work to ensure that they remain differentiating factors.
Don’t let your brand become a commodity
Right now, what comes to mind when consumers think of your brand? What about your product category? If you want consumers to evaluate your products on more than just price, you have to put the value of your brand front and center, and help them see the benefits of your product’s stand-out features.
And the more your product stands out, the easier it gets to protect your price, too. Retailers and sellers will be more motivated to preserve their relationship with you and avoid violating your pricing policy if they see what your brand brings to their catalog.