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What Is Differentiated Marketing?

Differentiated marketing is a strategy in marketing that allows companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The approach is based on the understanding of customer needs and wants.

In this marketing strategy, marketers identify the unique aspects of their business and deploy distinctive messages and products to attract customers. As a result, customers will select a product because it is different from what they offer from their competitors.

The differentiator can be a product or service characteristic, such as price or content. It might be an approach to doing business, such as customer service. An effective differentiated marketing strategy also identifies unserved and underserved market segments and focuses on their needs.

How is differentiated marketing applied to a company?

Differentiated marketing can be applied to a variety of companies and products. In general, a unique marketing approach can be beneficial for companies.

For example, a liquor company may try to distinguish itself from the competition by promoting responsible drinking and encouraging customers not to drink and drive. Likewise, a restaurant might market its business as kid-friendly or pet-friendly to stand out from its competitors.

Differentiated marketing requires creativity and an understanding of your target audience. In addition, it may require research on competitor strategies and alternative options for creating differentiation.

What does differentiated marketing entail in practice?

Differentiated marketing is about understanding your target audience and providing them with something they can’t get anywhere else.

To achieve this, it’s essential to conduct in-depth research on the company’s target audience so that you can get inside their heads and find out exactly what problems can be solved with your products or services.

The information you gather will then inform every stage of the process, from creating messaging to ads and packaging. And it’s essential to test everything with your target audience so you can be sure it resonates.

Differentiated marketing is essentially a more targeted approach than mass-market advertising, but the principle of finding out what target groups want and giving it to them remains unchanged. Differentiate or die – as the saying goes!

Examples of differentiated marketing strategies

One example of a differentiated marketing strategy is rewarding loyal customers. For example, Starbucks offers a “Gold Card,” a reward card for their best and most loyal customers, allowing them to get unique benefits such as access to exclusive promotions and discounts.

Another example is Apple’s one-to-one mobile education model, which provides teachers with iPads while students can get free educational content if their school subscribes to this service. This approach stands out from the regular educational model where schools provide laptops for teachers and purchase software licenses for students.

Differentiated marketing strategies should clarify what separates the brand from the competition and create messaging that communicates what sets it apart.

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Can differentiated marketing be a long-term marketing strategy?

Differentiated marketing is a strategy that focuses on providing something different from what the brand’s competitors are currently offering.

Differentiated marketing is more of an approach than one specific thing, so it can be applied in many forms, which means no, long-term differentiated work cannot be used as its strategy.

Differentiated campaigns can last for months or even years, but this does not mean they constitute the entire focus of your marketing campaign. One day you may need to transition from being a differential brand and become one that truly stands for something unique and meaningful to create sustainable success within your industry.

Why is differentiated marketing better than undifferentiated marketing?

Undifferentiated marketing does not offer anything specific to consumers. Instead, it’s all about reaching as many people as possible without focusing on those who might become customers.

On the other hand, differentiated marketing offers some tangible benefits that can set your business apart from its competitors and stimulate more demand for your brand in the long run.

For example, offering “free shipping” for orders over a particular value immediately sets you apart from competitors who have to charge for shipping costs. While this doesn’t mean they won’t eventually come around and follow suit, differentiating yourself early on helps you build a loyal customer base that trusts your company and knows what to expect when buying from you.

How is undifferentiated marketing different from differentiated marketing?

The difference between undifferentiated and differentiated marketing is the strategy of differentiation.

Undifferentiated marketing is, at its simplest, advertising to reach the broadest possible audience possible.

Differentiated marketing takes a more targeted approach by appealing to niche audiences with messaging that resonates with them emotionally or individually.

Undifferentiated marketing is about making sure that your company’s name stays in the consumers’ heads subconsciously, spreading awareness for your company no matter what they’re looking for.

On the other hand, differentiated marketing aims to provide something different for each unique demographic group, so your business is memorable because it stands out.

Examples of undifferentiated marketing strategies

Undifferentiated marketing is not an approach but rather a strategy. It is the opposite of differentiated marketing because it aims to reach as many people as possible.

Examples of undifferentiated marketing strategies include branded merchandise, like t-shirts and hats with your company logo on them, sold at retail outlets like Target or Walmart.

This kind of advertising can also be done on social media. For example, you can buy ads that automatically pop up in users’ newsfeeds who meet your desired demographic requirements.

One of the most popular undifferentiated marketing strategies is running commercials on television.

For example, if you want to target the average American family looking for something to eat for dinner (which is pretty much everyone), you would run your commercial during one of the many family-oriented sitcoms on the air.

What makes differentiated marketing effective?

There are two categories of effectiveness regarding how innovative a specific type of marketing strategy is: functional and emotional.

Functional effectiveness refers to its ability to offer something tangible that differentiates it from other brands in the industry.

For example, offering “free shipping” for orders over a specific value immediately sets you apart from competitors who have to charge for shipping costs.

On the other hand, emotional effectiveness is more about how it makes people feel whenever they interact with your brand. It’s why something like “What Color Is This Dress?” was able to go viral; ultimately, the dress itself doesn’t matter (the product).

But what does matter is that it triggered an emotional response in people who saw two very different things when looking at the same photo.

Differentiated marketing is all about creating content that stimulates this kind of emotional response, which can then spread around through word-of-mouth or social media sharing and become a positive association with your company name in their minds.

While differentiated marketing includes both functional and emotional benefits, it excels most with compelling stories to get shared frequently through various social media channels.

What makes undifferentiated marketing effective?

Undifferentiated marketing is when your brand becomes a household name and creates a positive association with your company’s name. This kind of marketing is popular because it does not charge consumers more for products or services, especially in the retail industry, where margins are very slim to begin with.

Positive associations become even more critical when appealing to specific demographics such as millennials, which can be difficult considering how diverse this generation is.

For example, if you were targeting millennial parents trying to find a healthy yet easy dinner to make for their kids, you would want to run an emotional-based commercial that takes them back to their childhood and reminds them of happy time spent at home with their families having fun and eating together.

This type of strategy is common throughout the retail industry because it keeps up margins while still building brand loyalty.


Differentiated marketing is not just a strategy where you create content that stimulates emotional responses in people. It’s also about making the content so that it triggers an emotional response in people, and then they share this positive association through word-of-mouth. That’s it from us in this article; feel free to share this article with your friends!

A data-driven professional with more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing, SEO, PPC, automation, and so on. Privately tea lover, gamer, tech nerd, and traveler. I love writing about marketing!

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