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How To Differentiate Similar Products 

We had a client come to us shortly after an acquisition with an interesting challenge. The company ended up with three products that are pretty much exactly the same. At first we thought that couldn't be right, and asked lots of questions to find something that was different. It soon became clear that there just wasn’t any difference—AT ALL. They wanted to know if we could still help them and of course, we answered, "Absolutely!"

Our solution? Claim it!

Here's how:

  • Generate lots of insights around the category to determine a ways to hook the consumer and make the claims relevant. What’s going on in the consumer’s mind? What’s something that no one else is noticing or addressing? Or, what’s a key need or dissatisfier that is overlooked or only partially met? Mine these questions for insights, and use them as inspiration for claims.
  • Ask the Creative Consumers® associates to prepare a lot of options in advance. In projects we almost always use a series of expansion questions around the product in order to gather possible Reasons To Believe and Benefits. To get at lots of language, we asked the question, “What’s true about this product?” four different ways and it worked really well.
  • Use metaphors for the product. It often leads to really good emotional claims— which are a great way to differentiate products that are essentially the same. 
  • Generate a wide variety of types of claims so each product does it differently. Consider all these varieties of claims: whimsical, data driven, absolute vs. relative, show the results, show results with visuals, technical features, top performer in a category, dual benefit, history & expertise, endorsements, ingredients, clinical proof, superior to competition.
  • Generate A LOT of claims. No holds barred. This helps to ensure that you have enough claims to choose from, with enough variety across different themes. And, it also gives you a path forward—some of the claims you can make now and some you would have to innovate to make a reality. Then you can eventually differentiate the products further by innovating to meet the claims generated.

With this formula, you can really dig in and differentiate. For more info on claims, check out our Claimstorming® services or get in touch! 

©2014 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Beth Storz

Beth Storz is President and Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go. She co-authored the book, "Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation™ Approach Drives Your Company Forward." Beth has been a guest on many innovation podcasts and her work has been featured in media outlets such as HuffPost and Fortune. Beth holds a BS in Business Management from Cornell University and a MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and has worked in brand management at some of the premier consumer packaged goods companies—including Unilever, Kraft and Nabisco. Since joining Ideas To Go, Beth has established herself as a leader in the Innovation landscape and designed and facilitated projects for hundreds of companies—from CPG to financial services to pharmaceuticals.