Differentiated Marketing Strategy Vs. Undifferentiated
A differentiated marketing strategy involves the preparation and communication of different brand and product messages to different types of customers. This approach is also known as segmented marketing. An undifferentiated strategy means you communicate the same benefits to the entire target audience. This is more common when your benefits are universally similar.
A differentiated approach works best when you have a lot of benefits to offer or varying interests from different segments of the market. Car dealers, for instance, promote the benefits of affordability and fuel economy to more cost-conscious buyers. They emphasize luxury, status and performance to buyers with more money to spend on a car that gives them a sense of esteem. By separating messages, you make it easier for each audience to see the benefits that appeal most specifically to them.
A major drawback of a differentiated approach, especially for small businesses, is the cost. Preparing strategies, producing different ads and putting them in different media is more expensive than developing one message. You also risk diluting your central brand identity if you try to do too many things for too many people. Gap Inc. uses different names -- Old Navy and Banana Republic -- to target distinct markets of economy buyers and higher end quality buyers. Trying to target these markets without differentiation can cause confusion.
The major benefit of presenting one message to a large audience is the affordability. It is much less expensive to communicate this way, and it is easier to emphasize your distinct brand value. Wal-Mart has an undifferentiated approach that stresses its low costs. This universal message is delivered through all of its communications. This makes it easy for the audience to know what to expect. Small companies more often emphasize local involvement and a personalized experience. Message consistency also enables better word of mouth development, as all customers see the same things.
If you have very distinct benefits and a diverse customer base, failure to differentiate causes problems. Cell phone providers, for instance, would have limited success trying to hit conservative, older buyers with messages about cool gadgetry, games and texting. Instead, they need to promote communication with family and safety benefits to this market. A lack of differentiation may inhibit your abilities to diversify and grow your business.