Differentiation strategy
Subject: Strategic Management | Topics:

Differentiation strategy calls for the development of a product or service that offers unique attributes that are valued by customers and that customers perceive to be better than or different from the products of the competition. The value added by the uniqueness of the product may allow the firm to charge a premium price for it. The firm hopes that the higher price will more than cover the extra costs incurred in offering the unique product. Because of the product’s unique attributes, if suppliers increase their prices the firm may be able to pass along the costs to its customers who cannot find substitute products easily.

Differentiate the products in some way in order to compete successfully. Examples of the successful use of a differentiation strategy are Hero Honda, Asian Paints, HLL, Nike athletic shoes, Perstorp BioProducts, Apple Computer, and Mercedes-Benz automobiles.

A differentiation strategy is appropriate where the target customer segment is not price-sensitive, the market is competitive or saturated, customers have very specific needs which are possibly under-served, and the firm has unique resources and capabilities which enable it to satisfy these needs in ways that are difficult to copy. These could include patents or other Intellectual Property (IP), unique technical expertise (e.g. Apple’s design skills or Pixar’s animation prowess), talented personnel (e.g. a sports team’s star players or a brokerage firm’s star traders), or innovative processes. Successful brand management also results in perceived uniqueness even when the physical product is the same as competitors. This way, Chiquita was able to brand bananas, Starbucks could brand coffee, and Nike could brand sneakers. Fashion brands rely heavily on this form of image differentiation.

Differentiation Strategy

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