You’re Better Off Producing One Great Thing vs Many Good Things


The Disadvantages of Product Differentiation

Did you know that Birdies and Rothy’s raised a whopping, combined total of $50 million in funding the past year? They are both independent shoe brands that were launched barely a few years ago. This money comes hot in the heels of the celebrity (and Royal) patronage that these brands have. And there’s a reason why small brands like Rothy’s, Birdies and Realisation Par are so loved (and therefore, popular). It’s because they take only a few styles or concepts and choose to explore it in depth, as opposed to creating a number of designs. This works well because it addresses the disadvantages of product differentiation. When you’re a small business, more doesn’t always mean more.

Does Your Product Address A Gap In The Market?

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The shoes made by Birdies are very distinct. Biance Gates and Marisa Sharkey, the founders, set up Birdies to produce stylish house slippers for women. Birdies’ range of slippers feature the support of a sneaker with the design aesthetic of luxurious shoes. According to Gates, Birdies was created to solve the problem of what to wear indoors and to complement their customers’ fashionable outfits in style and comfort.

Both Sharkey and Gates entertained often, but were unable to find house slippers that matched the outfits that they wore for the parties that they were hosting. Their searches did not turn up any results and the duo decided to take things into their own hands. As it turned out, their customers loved their shoes so much, that they started wearing them outside as well. The founders then added a rubber outsole to ensure that their shoes could handle outdoor wear.

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The lesson here is to introspect whether your product attracts a specific gap in the market, the way Birdies does. House slippers were always meant to be only comfortable, never luxurious. Birdies turned that assumption around on its head, creating a unicorn of sorts. If your product is a similar unicorn, it is best that you create more of them, instead of replicating other brands.

Does Your Product Have A Unique Look and Feel?

Both Rothy’s and Realisation Par make products that are immediately discernible from their competition. The fabric used to make Rothy’s are unique in their look and feel. They are made of recycled plastic, which gives them a distinct weave. Realisation Par on the other hand, make all their products out of silk, unlike other modern fashion brands that prefer viscose, rayon and polyester.

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When you are the creator of a product that’s very unique in look and feel, it is better to capitalize on what sets you apart from the pack, than trying to catch up with the rest of the pack. Why blend in when you were born to stand out?

Make the most of your resources

In many ways, the strategy used by Rothy’s, Birdies and Realisation Par, makes optimum use of their resources. Instead of creating new lines altogether, their efforts to create depth allow them to use an existing pattern and get creative with variations. It creates a sense of great variety when you’re actually just using an existing design. These brands have done their research to understand what their customer wants. And they create multiple iterations of it, so they’ll come back for more.

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One of the biggest disadvantages of product differentiation is the volume of resources that are consumed in creating new products. If you’re a small business, this is a great approach to take. Find the one thing that your customer needs and loves, and make as many versions of it as possible. It allows you to be creative while making the most of your existing resources!


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