Weaving Innovation into a Commoditized Product

March 21, 2018

Dear Strategy:

“How do you weave innovation into a commoditized product?”

This is actually a variation on a question that I answered in Episode 14, which you can access by clicking here. But I think it’s worth reiterating a couple of key points because they are really so important.

When you think of innovation, you can’t just think about the product itself. In fact, as far as what customers really care about, product innovation might not be quite as high on their list of priorities as you might think.

So, if you’re stuck on what some of those other areas are that may be ripe for innovation, here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Service/Support – If you ask most any consumer about their favorite companies to work with, chances are, the reason will have very little to do with the products themselves and almost everything to do with the service and support they receive in relation to those products. So, this is certainly an area that is ripe for innovation.
  1. Packaging – It’s easy to think that packaging doesn’t matter, especially for a commodity type product. But packaging can actually influence the way a customer feels about a product, even if that core product isn’t too much different from anyone else’s. So, this is another area in which you can certainly try to innovate.
  1. Promotion – The more people that know about your product, the more people that are likely to buy it. And when you find innovative new ways to promote your product, that can make all the difference in the world – especially when you use your brand to connect with the culture and preferences of your target market.
  1. Pricing – You may think that commodity products can only be priced low, and inevitably this type of thinking will only get you into a price war. In fact, there are plenty of ways to innovate around price – like bundling, pricing promotions, and even giving away your product for free while taking advantage of upgrade options or other perks that you may be able to monetize down the road.
  1. Placement – Even if you have a commodity product, why not think about new and innovative ways to place your products. Maybe you can use an online model where nobody else is doing so; or a direct-to-market model; or some other innovative path to market that nobody has ever thought of before. Whatever your choice, there are almost certainly new ways to place your product that will ultimately set you apart in an otherwise commoditized marketplace.

So those are just a few ideas of how you can think about non-product innovation for your non-innovative product. And if all else fails, you can always innovate around the product itself.

But, given all these other options, that one may just seem a little boring!


Listen to the podcast episode
Dear Strategy: Episode 042




Bob Caporale is the author of Creative Strategy Generation and the host of the Dear Strategy podcast. You can learn more about his work by visiting bobcaporale.com.

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