Phrases like “sustainable competitive advantage strategies, types of brand positioning, and successful product differentiation examples” should be in your mind continuously, if you want to succeed.
However, companies with sustainable competitive advantage examples know that success isn’t just about making a lot of money or selling a lot of goods.
The question “How to gain a competitive advantage over competitors in business and marketplace?” will never be easy.
But in our digital ages, full of terms like business intelligence, data analysis, product innovation, and digital marketing, the list of competitive advantages can be unlimited.
On this page:
- 15 real-life examples of different business and marketing strategies for competitive advantage and competitive differentiation that work effectively today
- Infographic in PDF
First, we will explain what is a competitive advantage.
In other words, it is an advantage over your competitors achieved by providing consumers with greater value. This value might be a lower price, better customer service, honesty, simplicity, and etc.
Competitive advantage is all about uncovering a “hole in the market,” something that other competitors cannot easily provide.
Let’s look at some strategies, tools, and ways to help your business stand out from the competitors.
1. Provide Legendary Customer Service
The possibility to create exceptional and memorable customer service is available to almost any business if it truly cares about their customers’ experience.Legendary service is achieved when a company serves the customer so well that the customers want and need to repeat the experience Click To Tweet
Those customers become promoters, generate viral media attention, and keep coming back.
To create memorable customer service always listen to your customers and try to understand them. Do your best to OVER deliver and to personally connect with your customers.
There’s never been a better time to exceed your customer expectation for delight.
Since the online shoe retailer Zappos first starts its e-commerce business in 1999, it is unwavering in focus on delivering one of the best service experience.
Zappos is like a rock star in customer service. They respond to customer emails at an unbelievably fast speed. They don’t argue about returns.
And they even shop at other stores for customers when they want something particular that is not in Zappos stock.
2. Simplicity – The New But Extremely Powerful Competitive Advantage
One of the most difficult things in business is to make simple products. However, it is one of the most profitable ways for product differentiation.
You should understand that less is more!
Making simple products means to keep the unnecessary out and put only the necessary in. These products save people time, efforts, and nerves.
In our noisy and dynamic life, people are desperate for automated and super simple products that require very little attention.
If you can give such a product, then you would have a super powerful brand positioning.
Aldi is a world-famous German-based grocer that offers much more than other groceries to the Americans.
Providing a straightforward shopping experience without confusing customers with complex promotions – is central to Aldi‘s simplicity.
The company puts efforts into understanding what size variants their audience wants and offers only the range that their customers really need.
Aldi manages to stay very profitable despite its amazingly cheap prices. One of the key reasons is their simple, streamlined approach to selling goods for the home.
The ability to save customers’ time and money while shopping is a vigorous competitive advantage as thus the customers can spend more time and money with friends and family.
3. Never Stop Innovating
This is one of the strongest product differentiation examples. Innovations allow you to look at customer’s needs differently and provide solutions that your competitors cannot.
Innovations are like a bridge from the current to the future. They are all about continuously seeking to make things better and improve people’s way of living.
The more you innovate, the more you will be able to stay ahead of competitors.
Always reinvent your products and services by adopting new technologies, new processes, and new solutions.
The best innovators can take well-known products and make them better. That is a power that makes brands stand out in the market.
To be innovative ask customers how you could improve your product. Also, the difficulties and complaints can be a great starting point for your innovations.
Among the best world-famous examples of companies that never stop innovating are: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Tesla, Nike, P&G, Hewlett Packard, Alibaba to name a few.
Let’s take Samsung – a global leader in technology, batteries, and chip design. Their innovations seem to be endless.
They have the first bendable OLED screen, the first ultrathin double-sided LCD, and etc. Samsung always displays outstanding design and engineering within a cutting-edge technology.
This way the company has become the world’s fastest-growing consumer-electronics company.
4. Offer a Guarantee
Consider a strong guarantee as part of your marketing and brand positioning strategies.
You might know that one of the key reasons people don’t buy your product is that they are thinking of purchasing your product can bring them some kind of risks.
Avoiding regrets is all people aim. You simply need to prove to them that they won’t regret buying your products.
Also, a guarantee shows you are confident enough in your product so you can stand behind it 100%. It shows you truly care about the customer’s satisfaction.
To create a powerful guarantee look at your strengths, and research other business’ guarantees for ideas.
Today the range of possible guarantees is quite impressive. You can use a lifetime guarantee, a free trial guarantee, a first-time guarantee, lowest price guarantee, and etc.
Cutco sells high-priced cutlery with a remarkable guarantee – “Forever Guarantee”.
At first, Cutco’s price might seem too high for many people.
However, the “Forever Guarantee” means by buying a set of knives today, customers can save a great amount of money by never needing to buy another.
This is a really impressive guarantee that allows Cutco to increase revenue and sales.
5. Offer Products That Break A Myth
Making products or services that break a well-established myth is one of the most sustainable competitive advantage strategies out there.
Do you know that Elon Musk and Tesla Motors have broken the stated myth that electric vehicles need to be slow cars with unpleasant design?
When considering this strategy, make sure the product is something people want.
Aim to create products that not only can break a myth but can extend your customer expectations and can bring them a huge and even unexpected value.
Elon Musk and Tesla Motors have proved the well-established myth that electric vehicles are ugly and slow is wrong.
Moreover, they have proved that electric cars can look absolutely gorgeous.
And in the electric sports car market, they still don’t have any serious competition.
6. Strong And Observable Business Ethics
Ethical buying is now one of the brand positioning and product differentiation strategies that are more important than ever before in creating a successful business.
If you manage to create strong and noticeable business ethics, you have a tremendous competitive advantage, because you are different from the crowd.
People are distrustful by nature. The world is like a scene where we all play a role. Public scandals and cheatings are almost everywhere.
And they come from the most trusted people – doctors, bankers, professors, etc.
If you can show that ethics are a core element of your business, then you have a marvelous customer benefit and a strong marketing tool.
To create business ethics, you can do many things such as to become a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP), get a degree in ethics, hire people with a degree in ethics, and maintain a strong business ethics culture in your company.
Lush is a different makeup brand with international reach. What makes them different from other cosmetics companies is handmade products.
LUSH is about ethical buying and purity that comes from a handmade thing. The Luch customers value social and corporate responsibility more than a luxurious image.
LUSH’s branding is simple and authentic. That’s why the company has strong brand loyalty.
7. Aim at Your Audience’ Emotions
People make decisions driven by their emotions.
And today, emotions are stronger than ever. The companies that understand the power of emotions and manage to connect with customers’ feelings receive a huge payoff.
Creating emotional branding shows you care about customers and that you truly understand how they feel.
Emotional branding can help you create deep relationships with your consumers. And this is something your competitor can hardly beat.
Examples of emotional motivators that can drive customer buying behavior are: a sense of well-being, a sense of freedom, feel secure, and etc.
If you can offer products that provide these feelings to customers, you definitely have one of the most sustainable competitive advantage strategies.
A classic example of great product differentiation based on people’ emotions is Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola is positioning its products as happy, meaning that they bring joy, harmony, etc.
Coca-Cola constantly implements emotional branding strategies and marketing campaigns that attach an emotional value to products.
That’s why a simple soft drink makes Coca Cola a global brand that keep people all over the world interested and excited.
8. Build A Brand Community
Building a community around your brand is one of the best things you can do for your business to grow nowadays.
A brand community is a group of people who use your brand as a platform to exchange ideas and share thoughts.
The community might consist of your current customers as well as potential ones.
An online community around your brand not only provides a great value to your customers but also keeps them engaged in long-term aspect.
Starbucks is a great example of creating a successful brand community. Starbucks has a platform where users can share their own ideas with the company and other people.
Starbucks generated more than 70,000 ideas in its first year.
9. Be Honest
Yes, it is quite unusual to look at honesty in terms of corporate advantage. But it works and it works great nowadays.The most important thing that consumers want from brands is honesty! Businesses who remain honest soon or later are rewarded for it. Click To Tweet
Being honest means being open about both your strengths and weaknesses. Honesty shows you truly care about your customers.
Honesty is a hidden competitive advantage that creates trust. When you are honest, you are able to create a relationship of trust with your customers and thus to stay ahead of your competitors.
In addition, honesty as a brand positioning can be a way of attracting top talents and improving motivation.
NPR (an independent, nonprofit media organization) is a great example of an honest company.
At the end of most programs, NPR shares listener feedback on past shows. Along with the glowing reviews, NPR also shares customer outrage and disappointment.
Moreover, NPR does not shift the focus when it makes headlines for less than desirable reasons. Instead, the station reports its own bad news without being afraid of admitting its mistakes or weaknesses.
10. Establish a Blog That Empowers Your Audience
Creating a blog is one of the most powerful competitive advantage strategies today if it is created in a way that empowers your customers and provides them with valuable information.
Blogging is and will remain, an essential tool to reach your audience and attract more attention than your competitors.
People trust blogs. Think about your blog as a human angle of your business. Your blog should be a place where your audience finds ways of resolving their issues and concerns.
The best business blogs answer painful questions their customers have.
Moreover, If you are consistently creating valuable blog posts, it’ll help establish you as an authority and an expert in the industry.
Zing by Quicken Loans is a wonderful blog that provides in-depth articles on different financial topics – from personal to business ones.
The blog design is clear and very modern.
The blog offers truly valuable information – great tips and detailed advice on the financial area, not just aggregation of information you see elsewhere.
With the help of its blog, Zing shows that they are experts in the industry and create trust among current and potential readers.
11. Craftsmanship As A Strong Competitive Differentiation
Believe it or not, craftsmanship still matters in our digital world and become to gain sustainable power. Why?
Now, it seems like everything we purchase is mass-produced.
Thereby, people are hungry for craft or something truly unique. Faster isn’t always better.
In addition, today’s generation is starving for authentic – be it searching for organic foods, handmade goods, or celebrating artistry.
The craftsmanship can be a strong promise for quality, reliability, beauty or precision.
Let’s take Mazda. When people generally think of artisans and craft, auto companies aren’t top of mind.
But to differentiate of their competitors, Mazda designers and engineers have managed to combine the crafts with the auto world.
Thus they earned the title of Takumi, master craftsman as well as a quite sustainable competitive advantage.
12. Create Compelling Brand Storytelling
Not only children but elders love listening to stories as tales and anecdotes are founded on emotions.
A brand story can connect you with customers on an emotional level.
If you manage to implement the magic of storytelling into your marketing campaigns, you are able to create a strong product differentiation strategy and brand loyalty.
Nowadays, you can tell your story through many marketing channels – social media, blog, case studies, or any other type of marketing content.
Just remember, to be successful, your brand story must be authentic, not a sales pitch.
It should be creative but based on reality.
Your brand story shouldn’t be just a part of your marketing campaign but a foundation on which your future growth strategy is built.
Johnnie Walker is an amazing example of brand storytelling.
Johnnie Walker’s tagline “Keep walking” is based on a story that dates back to 1819 when John was a young boy working at a farm.
As the farm was sold, John moved to work at a grocery shop as a salesperson. However, because of his huge love for whiskey, John is dedicated to producing the best whiskey. He never stopped to improve the whiskey and became very popular.
After John’s death in 1857, his son Alexander continued his legacy and improvements as introduced the square bottle to reduce breakages.
Later, the legacy is passed to Alexander’s sons.
Today, Johnnie Walker is one of the world famous whiskey brands with a great message to its audience, to keep walking.
13. Go Green
This is a serious brand positioning and product differentiation strategy now and will be in the future.
Going green shows your customers you don’t put profits ahead of the environment.
Consumers all over the world are becoming more and more passionate about protecting the planet.
They are ready to pay more for products and services that support the green cause.
The importance of words like “green revolution, wind power, solar energy, green business, recycling, green homes, eco-friendly products, and etc.” will grow exponentially in the very near future.
Timberland is a world-famous clothing manufacturer and retailer known for creating outdoor products with environmental benefits.
Timberland uses smart go green stories to launch new products to customers.
As dedicated LOHAS advocates, its clients choose the brand because of the green element in it.
“We’ve done a lot of consumer research, and we know that if we put two products side by side, one from our brand and one from a competitor’s, and if they’re comparable in price and quality, the majority of time a customer will choose our product if it’s made with some sort of ‘green’ element,” says Margaret Morey-Reuner, director of Timberland’s strategic partnerships and business development.
14. Business Intelligence As a Key to Gaining Competitive Advantage
In recent years, Business Intelligence (BI) has become a key advantage for all businesses that want to reach the next level.
BI is a process based on technology that allows you to analyze data and turn it to actionable information you can use for successful data-driven decision-making.
BI is known for getting the right information at the right time to the right people.
Today, BI is critical for business success as it allows you to understand customer behavior, to spot buying patterns and sales trends, optimize processes, and even predict sales, and financial results.
But the greatest power of BI is in its ability to help you see new opportunities and uncover what your customers would like in the future.
Thus, it is a powerful weapon that helps you stay ahead of your competitors.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is a famous American restaurant chain that has more than 2400 locations globally.
Chipotle switched to a modern BI software platform that allows them to gain a centralized view of restaurant operations. Before that their disparate data sources didn’t allow teams to see a unified view of restaurants.
With the new BI solution, they are able to track operational effectiveness at a national scale.
As a result, the speed of report delivery has tripled and saved thousands of hours. Moreover now, Chipotle can obtain understandings to the next level.
15. Make a Rigorous Hiring Process
There’s one thing that all the top companies in every industry have: talent.
The best companies have the best employees. Thereby those companies can deliver the best products and services.
No matter which sector you are working in, you should see people as your most valuable asset.
Talented passioned persons committed to their career are the applicants you want to hire.
So make sure, you have the right hiring process and always try to improve it.
When it comes to the power of hiring Google is one of the best examples.
Their people, as well as their hiring approach, make Google so difficult to defeat. There still no other search engines that match their quality.
Google’s rigorous hiring process makes it hard for even talents to get a job. Google has the best and most talented search engineers.
Moreover, their talented employees create efficient algorithms that deliver the best results in the world.
Today businesses operate in an ultra-competitive marketplace.
Almost every industry has well entrenched and excellent funded competitors. They use modern and effective ways and tools to win customers such as marketing intelligence, data mining companies, web competitive intelligence, and etc.
So you need an extremely powerful differentiation strategy and brand positioning in order to have success.
The list of above competitive advantage strategies and marketing tools aim to give you ideas for position your product so that it can thrive in any crowded market space.
Do you have other suggestions? Share your thoughts with us.
Silvia Vylcheva has more than 10 years of experience in the digital marketing world – which gave her a wide business acumen and the ability to identify and understand different customer needs.
Silvia has a passion and knowledge in different business and marketing areas such as inbound methodology, data intelligence, competition research and more.