Are you only doing the things you are best at?

if not you are probably struggling to get enough growth or find yourself competing on price.  I was reminded of this by two features in Marketing Week yesterday. 

One was about Reckitt Benckiser who have just posted results with revenue up 20% and beating all their targets.  The other was about Tesco online who are enjoying good growth in their core grocery delivery and Tesco Direct businesses, but are pulling out of house sales, flowers and clothing as they are losing customers here.


The most striking thing about the Reckitt’s brand list is how each product as the best at what it does
, and in each case the product focusses on a narrow task. e.g.

Vanish – removes small difficult stains
Finish – dishwasher tablets
Calgon – removes hard water deposits
Dettol – anti bacterial cleaning
Airwick – air freshening
Lemsip – flu treatments
Nurofen – fast pain relief


Tesco’s forays into markets that might seem attractive (flowers, house sales, clothing) have struggled as they end up being one provider competing on price or offering various new features.

Big brands also do this.  They must be the best at something.  Coke has a broad appeal and sells some generic soft drink values as well as its own brand personality, but it wins by being more available than any other brand. 

Mobile phone handsets that are winning at the moment seem to do one thing especially well.  Sony Erricsson have a walkman range focused on music, Samsung really attend to style and feel with a lot of designs so that friends can each have a different one.  Nokia and Motorola have struggled to stand out more recently.

This has got me thinking – what is it that Differentiate does best?  The best way to find out is to ask your customers.  I plan to ask our customers and ezine readers in the next ezine.

Identify what you do best and then narrow/specialise your business to deliver this and focus on selling to the people for whom what you do best is what they want.

In the language of the Growth Game – what you do best helps you define the characteristics of your Power Categories.  This is where you should specialise and focus. 

Reckitt Benckiser did not win by trying to take Unilever, P&G and GSK head on, they found specific niches where they could be the best and they focussed on these.  If big players like this find specialising is the route to profitable premium priced growth.  I guess we can all learn from that.

Boris v Ken – what can we learn about how customers make choices?

Using your existing data?

How can you discover the Power Attributes that
determine why consumers choose your brand without doing new and
expensive surveys?
  Our answer is that you can and should
take a stab at it.  Whilst doing new research will be more robust, you
can understand valuable insights about your Power Attributes by
analysing whatever data or insight you already have or can easily
gather.  This ezine shows you an example of how to do this.  We have
analysed the result of the London Mayoral election to illustrate how
this can work.

Analysis of Boris victory?

Voters’ and customers’ choices can seem a bit odd.
So how come the electorate plumped for Boris, who had been seen as a
bit a bit of a joke and prone to gaffs and offered an uncertain
prospect of being competent?  We have analysed the Power Attributes to
understand how voters made this choice.   

It is possible to take a good stab at understanding the Power
Attributes using available published data.  In this case we have
located two very different pre election polls to help us work out the
Power Attributes.

Conquest’s Metaphorix Poll for ITV London

poll for Unison

Power Attributes must possess both importance and uniqueness.
So Power Attributes for the candidates are ones that are both important
to voters and in some degree are unique to the candidate.  Attributes
will have both functional and emotional elements and both will
influence the customers decision to purchase.  In this case of this
election functional really means policy issues and emotional attributes
relate to the candidate’s personality.  We started by looking at policy
attributes.  MORI revealed the ranking of importance of the policy

Importance ranking to voters

1. Crime/Policing
2. Transport
3. Healthcare/NHS
4. Cost of living
5. Education
6. Pollution/environment

It was difficult for the candidates to get uniqueness on these issues
– even though the candidates were able to offer some differences in
their policies.  Ken had a good track record on transport.  Brian
Paddick had been a policeman.  Boris talked a lot about crime
reduction. When you look beyond crime and transport, the next three
issues lay completely outside the control of the Mayor (NHS, Cost of
living, Education).

The personalities of the candidates offered much more scope for uniqueness

So personality attributes may offer more scope for real power.
When we look for clues about these more emotional attributes, the
metaphorix survey done by Conquest for ITV London was able to highlight
the emotional beliefs about the personalities of the candidates.  If we
start by looking at the importance of the different personality
attributes, we discover that the most important attribute is


However none of the candidates possessed this to any adequate or differential degree.  So despite trustworthy being
important as an attribute, it lacked power as a means to choose between
the candidates.  So we need to look further to find attributes that are
powerful for each candidate.  Conquest discovered there were some
attributes where the candidates differed.


arrogant refreshing boring
confident confident focused
capable approachable honest

We can eliminate confident as this did not distinguish Ken or Boris and
also knock out boring as this is not a positive.  The remaining
attributes provide the clues as to why Boris won. 

Boris won the day by being approachable and refreshing.
Ken’s lead on capable was outdone by Londoners’ desire for a change.
For Brian Paddick, being focused and honest was just not important
enough to Londoners.

Power Attributes for London Mayor

The Power Attributes for this London Mayoral election were to offer a
change from a tired and slightly arrogant incumbent and promise to
address violent crime alongside transport issues.

No doubt the national issues of healthcare, cost of living and
education played a part.  Ken would have suffered by his association
with a struggling Labour government.   But since these issues remain
outside the direct control of the Mayor and were difficult for the any
candidates to discuss.

For an attribute to be powerful you must be able to create some uniqueness.
The most powerful attributes were those where the candidates could
establish some uniqueness.  It is the combination of an attribute being
both important and unique, that creates the power to influence voters
or consumers choices.