Until recently, consumers had a limited repetoire of companies that they could choose to deal with.
This was often dictated by where they lived, how their tastes had developed, and what form of advertising was used. Of course, this is not the case anymore. The woman shopping in the local mall is also looking at Amazon and eBay. It’s so obvious that it’s barely worth even mentioning that they can check out it all online.
The typical consumer doing their research will know more about how you stack up against your competitors than you do. It may be because your service or product does not stack up in terms of the price you’re charging – in the customer’s mind. As Seth Godin says, ‘Low price is a great way to sell a commodity. That’s not marketing, though, that’s efficiency’.
There is also the second more subtle issue. This is the expectation that your potential consumer is not bringing his experience from other industries to yours. You put out a product and service that is good enough in your view. In isolation, that may be the case. But, the same consumer is spending time on Facebook, watching TV, reading the Sunday supplements and driving around in a Lexus. Or a Mini or a Fiat 500. He or she is not operating in isolation – yet thats how we often think in many case.
If you are interested in buying a car, some of the Korean brands offer seven+ or longer warranties. Lexus came from nowhere to grab market share from the big guns in Germany, Mercedes and BMW. The guys at Lexus ruined it for everone else though, as they set new expectations from a business that had very low expectations post-purchase.
Use this new playing field to your advantage. Sure, keep tabs on what your competitors are doing you, and you will be more competitive.
However, look outside the industry: think how consumers import their expectations and experiences from elsewhere? Your business is not different. Having worked in five different industries now, I can pretty much guarantee that most businesses are the same. Yes, the economics can be different, but there is a lot more in common between marmalades and Andrea Bocelli, the opera singer (but thats for another blog!)
Think about the Lexus effect in your business. Can you replicate? Can you offer guarantees no-one else can? If not, why not?