People who buy standardized products aren’t looking for anything unusual or unique. They take comfort in knowing what to expect from buying something that is a standard in the industry, and that is good news for you. Whether you are a manufacturer or an end-product seller, you can reap the benefits of standardization by saving money and passing those savings on to your customers for a product with which they are already familiar.
Standardized Products Benefit From Familiarity
Cell phones, laptop computers, bank cards and frying pans: What do these products have in common? All are familiar to most people because they're used regularly. If some aren’t using them now, they have used them in the past, so they know how they work and what they do. It could be said that they are standardized products because each one operates essentially the same as the others in its category, often using identical technology.
You might think there would be an outcry over products that come to market because they mimicked other successful products, but the truth is far from it. While the first groundbreaking product is marketed as the original with warnings to not settle for imitations, those copycats are marketed as just as good but more affordable.
Standardization Matters, Official or Not
Some products like laptops and bank cards are made according to actual standards that have been developed by ISO, the International Organization of Standards. ISO has over 22,500 standards for products and systems in virtually every industry.
If a product is made using an ISO standard, that means it is built and operates the same way as all the others with the same standard regardless of what manufacturer or seller name is on it. The outside might be different, such as plastic or metal in different colors. However, the inside where the technology is housed is exactly the same.
Other products are called "standardized" as an unofficial term. They may not be covered by an ISO standard, but all products of the same name operate the same way. Frying pans, also called skillets, are an example of an unofficial standardized product. To be called a frying pan or skillet, it must be a round pan with a handle to be used on top of the stove and must have sloping sides rather than straight sides.
Cost Effective to Produce
One of the biggest and most important advantages of standardization is that standardized products are cost effective to produce. Businesses that sell standardized products can use one template for all of their products. Since the cost of production is an expense against profits, keeping production costs low helps businesses make more profit on their products.
The cost savings on producing a standardized product are two-fold. Not only does a business save money by only having one template in production, but the template is less expensive to purchase because it is a standard one that is readily available. There is no need to pay for customization nor to reinvent the wheel when the template they need already exists.
Production costs figure into the determination of how much to charge for a product. So, businesses that don’t manufacture the products they sell but buy the standardized product wholesale from manufacturers can buy them at a lower cost than if the products were unique or customized.
Easy for Consumers to Understand
Consider the case of marketing cell phones. It’s reasonable to assume that everyone who is contemplating buying a phone from you already understands what a cell phone is and its major benefit of portability. Your advertising dollars and the time and efforts of your sales staff won’t need to be spent explaining that a cell phone fits in your pocket and lets you take calls wherever you are.
Even flip-phone users, who are likely the least knowledgeable among your potential customer base, understand that benefit. Smartphones let you connect to your email so you’re not missing important messages while you’re out. Unless they’ve been asleep a la Rip Van Winkle for the past decade or longer, they know what email is and understand the benefit of having it on their phone. The implications of this on your marketing costs are huge.
You can go right to explaining how this model differs from other models, detailing the benefits without much explanation needed. One model has more storage than another, which is important if you plan to download games and other applications. Even those who would never dream of using their phone to play a game or stream a movie understand that other people do use their phones this way.
Meets Expectations of Quality
Standardized products, especially those made according to official standards, are expected to be of the same quality regardless of what manufacturer’s name is on them. All of the products covered by that standard are made with the same technology and materials of identical grade.
They are all tested using identical tests to make sure they conform to the standard too. A good example of this is windows that are made to withstand specific hurricane wind speeds, which are used in hurricane-prone areas like Florida.
As technology improves, standards are often upgraded, or technology is challenged to come up with better solutions when situations occur that indicate the standard needs to be raised. However, as long as products are using the same revised standard, they are certified to be of that quality.
Forming a Global Standardization Strategy
As more and more companies sell their products globally, the issue of standardization matters even more. Many products adhere to standards that are the same in the U.S. as they are internationally. Even though the measurement systems differ between the imperial system used in the U.S. and the metric system used nearly everywhere else, the data can be converted to either system but still follow the standard. Customers in any country know that the product will work for them and be of equal quality to another because both are made according to the same standards.
This makes marketing products globally much easier and less expensive than it would otherwise be because marketing teams are working with identical products. For a product that's made in the U.S. but marketed globally, international customers may be concerned about how long it will take to get the product. So, your supply chain becomes important, and your marketing needs to stress the short delivery time you can offer. Chances are that you will need to establish a local connection in that country to handle service.
When selling products that are globally standardized, the products themselves aren't in question. Your marketing can sing the praises of the products' advantages and benefits just as you do in the U.S. and then reassure global customers about delivery and service in a few added sentences. Standardization makes forming a global standardization strategy clear. The product is the same, so marketing just needs to be tweaked for the country's differences.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She has written on business topics for afkinsider.com, smallbusiness.chron.com, Harbor Style Magazine, the Charlotte Sun and more, as well as advertising copy and materials. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards in B2B and B2C marketing.