Creating a unique selling proposition can help set yourself apart from the competition, target specific customer groups and develop a strong brand identity. These very same benefits, however, can turn into liabilities if consumer trends or marketplace conditions change. Understanding how a unique position in the marketplace can hurt you will help you make the right decisions when you plan your long-term marketing strategies.

Unique Selling Proposition

The term “unique selling proposition” is used in the marketing profession and academia to relate to attributes that give a product or service something no other competitor has. This might include a specific feature, a lower price, status or style message or a strong warranty. Successful marketers know that consumers aren’t primarily looking for specific products; they are looking to solve problems or fill needs. They then look for specific products to solve those problems or fill those needs. Without a unique selling proposition, it will be hard to enter and succeed in a marketplace with established competition.

Narrow Customer Base

Targeting a segment of the population, such as developing a product that only appeals to men, seniors or women with children, limits your customer base. In some instances, this works well, especially if you can generate high profit margins to offset lower sales because you have a unique product a specific consumer group wants. Creating an artificial unique selling proposition to attract a segment of the marketplace, such as creating packaging and marketing messages that attract women, will unnecessarily decrease your sales if your product has a broader appeal. Consider selling more than one version of your product under different names if you want to reach a broader segment of the market by creating a unique selling proposition for each. Alternatively, market a unique selling proposition that appeals to a wider spectrum of consumers, making higher gross profits off of bigger sales volumes.

Some unique selling propositions are based on a desire in the marketplace, rather than a need. For example, young tennis players might want to play with the racket used by a hot new star, not because it offers more control or power or durability. Some consumers purchase athletic apparel based on the fact that most of their friends are wearing those shorts, t-shirts or warm-ups. When a fad or trend ends, you are stuck with a unique selling proposition that’s old news or unhip. To avoid this, build your brand on a long-term benefit that provides value and solves problems, rather than one that appeals to ego or the latest tastes.


At some point, some company made the best horse-drawn carriages anywhere and made a good profit doing so. When the automobile came along, that buggy maker’s unique selling proposition eventually became useless. The shift from personal computers to tablets and mobile devices is making both hardware companies and businesses that advertise on the Internet scramble to address the growing trend of mobile marketing. Keep your eye on marketplace trends to determine if new technologies might make your benefit unnecessary for consumers and if you'll be able to redesign your product and retool your production methods to stay in business.