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.