Strategic Options Available for Building Competitiveness
A competitive advantage is an advantage gained over competitors by offering customers greater value, either through lower prices or by providing additional benefits and service that justify similar, or possibly higher, prices. For growers and producers involved in niche marketing, finding and nurturing a competitive advantage can mean increased profit and a venture that is sustainable and successful over the long term. This fact sheet looks at what defines competitive advantage and discusses strategies to consider when building a competitive advantage, as well as ways to assess the competitive advantage of a venture.
The Cost Leadership Strategy
Porter’s generic strategies are ways of gaining competitive advantage – in other words, developing the “edge” that gets you the sale and takes it away from your competitors. There are two main ways of achieving this within a Cost Leadership strategy:
- Increasing profits by reducing costs, while charging industry-average prices.
- Increasing market share through charging lower prices, while still making a reasonable profit on each sale because you’ve reduced costs.
The Differentiation Strategy
Differentiation involves making your products or services different from and more attractive those of your competitors. How you do this depends on the exact nature of your industry and of the products and services themselves, but will typically involve features, functionality, durability, support and also brand image that your customers value.
To make a success of a Differentiation strategy, organizations need:
- Good research, development and innovation.
- The ability to deliver high-quality products or services.
- Effective sales and marketing, so that the market understands the benefits offered by the differentiated offerings.
The Focus Strategy
- Companies that use Focus strategies concentrate on particular niche markets and, by understanding the dynamics of that market and the unique needs of customers within it, develop uniquely low cost or well-specified products for the market. Because they serve customers in their market uniquely well, they tend to build strong brand loyalty amongst their customers. This makes their particular market segment less attractive to competitors.
- As with broad market strategies, it is still essential to decide whether you will pursue Cost Leadership or Differentiation once you have selected a Focus strategy as your main approach: Focus is not normally enough on its own.
- But whether you use Cost Focus or Differentiation Focus, the key to making a success of a generic Focus strategy is to ensure that you are adding something extra as a result of serving only that market niche. It’s simply not enough to focus on only one market segment because your organization is too small to serve a broader market (if you do, you risk competing against better-resourced broad market companies’ offerings.)