Is Differentiated or Undifferentiated Marketing Better for Your Business?

Changing consumer tastes and expectations mean many modern marketers focus on highly targeted campaigns designed to appeal to specific demographics. But in a digital world obsessed with personalization, are there still advantages to undifferentiated approaches meant to appeal to everyone? Read on for answers.

Is Differentiated or Undifferentiated Marketing Better for Your Business?

Putting together a successful marketing campaign means making lots of different decisions. 

Not only does the marketer behind the campaign need to decide what message they want to send about the product they’re selling, but they need to determine who the message is for. 

Often, this means creating a different collection of marketing content for each potential audience.

Many modern consumers have come to prefer and expect personalized, differentiated marketing that seems to have been created especially for them.

It helps them establish personal connections with the brands they buy from and promotes ongoing brand loyalty. 

However, undifferentiated marketing that appeals to a universal audience still has its place. 

The question here is: is it right for you and your company? Keep reading to find out.

    What is Undifferentiated Marketing?

    While differentiated marketing seeks to tailor individual campaigns to specific portions of their target audience, undifferentiated marketing takes a broader approach. 

    A company interested in undifferentiated marketing creates just one campaign to appeal to its entire audience. 

    This results in a more generalized message in the interest of keeping things inclusive.

    For an example of how this works, picture a popular local deli that already sees a fair amount of traffic. 

    Such a business probably doesn’t rely as much on advertising to bring new faces through the door. But when they are interested in attracting new customers, they may adopt an undifferentiated marketing strategy to appeal to as many people as possible. 

    Selling points addressed by this type of marketing may include low prices, convenient locations, or superior quality — things that matter to pretty much everyone.

    What are the Advantages of Undifferentiated Marketing?

    There are several different reasons why a company might opt for an undifferentiated strategy over a more specialized, segmented differentiated approach. 

    Sometimes identifying distinct customer segments is complicated, making it easier to paint with broader strokes. An undifferentiated approach may also be suitable during periods where identified segments are evolving. 

    Other pros of adopting an undifferentiated marketing style include the following.

    It’s cost-effective

    It takes money, labor, research, and time to put together multiple advertising campaigns to reach many different demographics on a personalized level. 

    However, the broad range of an undifferentiated approach means one campaign that works for everyone, which could mean a small fortune in savings.

    It expands your reach

    When you focus all of your efforts and resources on a single campaign for products with a wide-reaching appeal, you enjoy a golden opportunity to reach a vast audience. 

    This makes undifferentiated marketing an excellent solution for businesses looking to scale up and expand their market exponentially.

    It supports brand recognition

    A successful advertising campaign should do more than just sell products and boost sales. 

    It should also help build the public’s overall awareness of the brand behind it. 

    Undifferentiated marketing is an incredibly effective way to familiarize a massive number of consumers with brands that specialize in goods everyone uses and needs — like toothpaste, soap, and similar products.

    What are the Disadvantages of Undifferentiated Marketing?

    Of course, there are always drawbacks to any take on marketing, and undifferentiated marketing is no different. Here’s a look at some of the cons of going this route.

    It’s vulnerable to the effects of market changes

    Since undifferentiated campaigns bet all their efforts on one single strategy, they’re especially susceptible to the consequences of market fluctuations. 

    For instance, a brand might be at the mercy of changes like inflation, evolving consumer preferences, and average price points.

    It may be harder to keep up with competitors

    Although undifferentiated marketing campaigns are meant to at least potentially appeal to everyone, it’s simply not possible to please every last member of your desired audience with any one message. 

    There will always be those who prefer the personalized, targeted approach. And if that’s what your competition’s angle is, then you risk losing some of your potential customers to them.

    It’s harder to cultivate customer loyalty

    Inspiring a customer to become loyal to one specific brand over another is more challenging than most think. 

    These days, it really does require a personal connection that makes the customer feel like buying a particular product makes them part of something bigger than themselves. 

    Unfortunately, there’s little about an undifferentiated product to motivate hardcore loyalty, but this may not matter for commonly used products like milk or eggs.

    Differentiated vs. Undifferentiated Marketing

    Whether to choose a differentiated or undifferentiated approach for your next marketing campaign depends on which is the better fit for your ongoing business goals. 

    Here are a few things to consider when weighing the pros and cons of each option.

    1. Your Product

    One of the most significant considerations when choosing between differentiated and undifferentiated marketing tactics is the actual product you’re looking to sell.

    Some products are specially designed to suit a very narrow demographic. For instance, an expensive designer perfume for women appeals to a particular slice of the general public, meaning polished, highly targeted advertising may be a lot more effective in the long run.

    However, an undifferentiated approach may be a better fit in the case of products everyone needs and uses — like toilet paper, bread, laundry detergent, or toothpaste. 

    Undifferentiated campaigns make it easier to reach the max number of people possible, while differentiated approaches aim to connect to a small niche audience.

    2. Your Budget

    The tighter your marketing budget, the more bang you should be looking to get for your buck. 

    Although undifferentiated marketing is cheaper on paper, as you only have a single one-size-fits-all campaign to worry about, your efforts still need to add up to a healthier bottom line to be worthwhile. 

    For staple products with a near-universal appeal, the general approach of undifferentiated strategies represents a great value.

    But if your product is highly niched and your campaign is broad, you risk not converting your audience. If you’re selling a specialty product or anything else designed to appeal to a small market, a differentiated approach will ultimately carry more value for you.

    3. Your Brand Image

    Companies looking to reach a highly specific demographic generally need to be more concerned with developing a distinctive brand identity

    The idea is to associate your brand and the products you sell with a customer’s core values, desired lifestyle, or sense of community with others like themselves. 

    Differentiated marketing generally comes alongside carefully chosen imagery and messaging that helps support these goals.

    On the other hand, companies that ultimately want to appeal to as many people as possible need to take care not to make any single demographic feel excluded. 

    The broad reach of undifferentiated marketing is ideal for this. Think campaigns that focus on selling points that would appeal to every person interested in that product — value pricing, efficiency, availability, and so forth.

    It’s also important to note that you don’t need to stick to either of the above approaches permanently. 

    Many companies start with one method and eventually transition to the other as their marketing goals change.

    Great Examples of Undifferentiated Marketing

    World-famous manufacturers of everyday products generally aim to mass-market using undifferentiated strategies. 

    But, again, the idea is to reach as many people as possible and potentially become a household name. Here are some great examples of brands that have mastered this.

    Coca-Cola

    Ask just about anyone to name a brand that’s truly a household name, and Coca-Cola is highly likely to be one of the first examples to come to mind. 

    Ever since the brand first launched in 1893, Coke has gone above and beyond to help its signature soft drink appeal to as many people as possible on a global basis. 

    It does this by associating its brand assets and products with time-honored concepts like togetherness, connection, wholesomeness, and tradition.

    M&M’s

    M&M’s are simple but delicious candies with the potential to appeal to just about anyone. 

    After all, what person with a sweet tooth doesn’t like colorful, bite-sized pieces of silky milk chocolate? 

    The minds behind M&M’s create marketing material designed to capitalize on this by appealing to people of all ages, young and old. 

    Common themes include the idea of bringing people together and embracing the fun in life at every age.

    Colgate

    When you think of toothpaste, a few brands probably come immediately to mind, and Colgate is likely one of them. 

    Like most brands that take an undifferentiated approach to their marketing, Colgate’s signature product — its toothpaste — isn’t meant to serve one demographic over another. 

    That said, their marketing efforts tend to focus on how well the product works, how economical it is, and other selling points with the potential to convert just about any sales prospect.

    General Motors

    Undifferentiated marketing can be a great approach to promoting products with higher price points, as well — like cars and trucks — and General Motors is an ace at it. 

    GM’s entire brand strategy is all about manufacturing safe, reliable vehicles appropriate for anyone and everyone. 

    As a result, their marketing campaigns often focus on how well their collective product line fits absolutely any lifestyle or budget.

    Wrap Up: Meet Your Sales Goals with the Right Marketing Approach for Your Audience

    Whether you’re ultimately looking to reach a massive audience or a tiny one with your next marketing campaign, it’s crucial that you know how to appeal to your ideal customer. 

    The idea is to get through to precisely the people who are most interested in what you’re selling, whether that’s a household cleaner designed to make life easier for everyone or a high-end luxury product made for an elite few.

    Choosing the right marketing approach is part of getting where you want to be with your sales goals, but so is thorough keyword research to support your content marketing efforts. 

    Check out our quick-start guide on how to master the art of niche keyword research, the better to help your audience find and fall in love with your products!

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    Shannon Hilson Rock author vector
    Rock Content Writer

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