Youngme Moon wrote a great book about this called ‘Different – Escaping the Competitive Herd’.
It’s been a while since I read it, but one of my main takeaways is that you can easily lose yourself in summing up features that may seem very relevant for you when you’re in your own bubble. They may seem very relevant to the customer, even if you explain them really well. But what’s actually the case is that the customer doesn’t care.
The customer in this case doesn’t care about the amount of Gigs on the MP3 player. The don’t care about the material the player is made of, or the spray-tan that’s being used to give it a neat finish. Multiple companies producing MP3 players are showcasing all of these features, giving the same features different names and trying to market them as ‘newer’, ‘better’ and more ‘exclusive’. All the while creating a buzzword bingo chaos that the consumer does not want to hear; they want to buy an MP3 player..
It’s reflected in a quote from the book:
“When a category has reached the point when it’s possible to make fun of the people who still believe in the differences across products, it has reached the point of what I refer to as heterogeneous homogeneity: The differences are there, but they are lost in a sea of sameness. Note that the mockery quotient of a category is directly correlated to the amount of meaningless differentiation in it.”
It takes a connoisseur to see the differences between MP3 player brands; to a consumer it is just an MP3 player.
And this is exactly the reason why Apple was so brilliant. They escaped the competitive herd by NOT going along with showcasing features that were so similar to all of their competitors. Funny enough, in many occasions their features like speed and memory weren’t even ‘better’. Just the way they positioned it was brilliant; because ultimately, the consumer wants to listen to music, right out of their pockets.