Product differentiation: sustainability as a game changer

An abundance of products is great for consumers, but a real challenge for marketing professionals. So, how can you reach your target group in saturated markets, and what role does sustainability play?

Product differentiation and sustainability: a woman with an Afro and sunglasses is in a clothing store.
Image: © Татьяна-Креминская / AdobeStock

Product differentiation as a success strategy

Product differentiation is a well-known strategy for highlighting the uniqueness of your products in order to stand out from the competition. It’s a great way to reach your target group, especially in saturated markets. Even if your company usually generates impressive profits, it won’t make much difference in an environment where countless providers are vying for the attention of a limited number of customers. That’s because, nine times out of ten, the demand for solutions will have already been met and there’ll be no space for more.

What’s the best approach in saturated markets?

Product differentiation can be used to market products with an emphasis on the features that benefit the target group, for example image-relevant factors such as lifestyle aspects or something as simple as a lower price. Especially in saturated markets where there are lots of similar products, differentiation is often the only way to set yourself apart from competitors and sell successfully.

Sustainability as a product differentiation tool

When trying to figure out how to differentiate products and services from others in saturated markets, an obvious solution is sometimes overlooked by marketers: embracing current trends. Instead of flashy, luxury products, people are currently favoring solutions that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and otherwise sustainable. As a result, green marketing has become a successful marketing approach in recent years. When it comes to product differentiation, sustainability is a powerful tool nowadays for positioning a product as the preferable solution compared to others, giving companies an ace up their sleeve in saturated markets.

Did you know that sustainability plays a big role for customers even when times are tough? That’s corroborated by a Deloitte study from 2022 entitled “Sustainability trend under pressure – With money tighter than ever, how can companies make a difference now?” 63 percent of the study participants said that sustainability is a fairly or very important factor when making buying decisions, despite the current situation. Almost a quarter of respondents also claimed that, compared to last year, they buy more or almost exclusively sustainable products now.

All your products should ideally be green

By adopting a sustainable approach, you can give customers new buying incentives in saturated markets. Companies can leverage the advantages of sustainability on a number of levels to differentiate their products from those of competitors. It’s a win-win situation for all – the planet, people, and our economy – and a way to be successful in saturated markets today. That can be achieved by modifying your product portfolio through the use of environmentally friendly production processes, getting certified with eco-seals, or implementing other green marketing methods. If you want to take a deeper dive into the topic, then look no further than our green guide on sustainable marketing, which is free to download for all members of the DMEXCO community.