This is the sixth in a series of what has changed in customer perceptions and resultant buying behaviors.

Change #6 – Consumers By Distinction Not Difference

Regardless of your type of business or profession, to break out in any market or marketplace whether local, national, or even global requires a clear distinctive presence. Even if your business is the only one like it around and is selected by default by consumers you need a distinctive presence. Without it, you are vulnerable when a competitor arrives and they most likely will.

How is a distinctive presence defined?  Distinctive presence is the ability to stand out from all others in your type of business or profession.

Too many businesses and professionals think they are distinct because they “see themselves as different.” First and foremost, how you “see yourself or want to be seen” is not the pathway to distinction. Rather it is how the consumer sees you that is! Secondly, and just as importantly, being different is not the same as having a distinctive presence. Difference in and of itself is polarizing. Relying on or promoting what you think makes you “different” immediately invites competitive comparisons. Consumers measure and evaluate so-called differences against their current providers or other considered choices. Nor is simply changing your lexicon and saying you are distinct the answer. Instead, being distinct is evaluating and then ensuring that every facet of your business is consumer-centric. When a business is truly distinctive by being solely customer-focused it creates high demand from consumers. In a marketplace that is fully commoditized or at the very least very competitive, the key to business and customer-base growth is to be truly seen as distinct by the consumer.

In W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne’s landmark book Blue Ocean Strategy they make a compelling case for having a distinct presence rather than competing head to head with other suppliers and businesses by just relying on a business being “different.”

The benefits of having a business that creates a distinct presence based on the buyer’s perspective solves many issues companies face in today’s challenging marketplace. First and foremost, they are perceived by the consumer as best in class. Think Starbucks, Nordstrom’s, Subway or the dry cleaner, dentist or repair shops you choose to use. Second a business that creates a distinctive presence is not constantly competing on price or their business attributes or product features. Rather they enjoy a higher perceived value by consumers because they really are customer-centric and are helping them get what they want. Consequently, they are the clear choice from all the rest. Think TJ Maxx, Ross, Ace Hardware, Southwest Airlines. Third a business with a distinct presence establishes an emotional bond with their customers who in turn drive more buyers to the business through their ongoing positive word of mouth. Growing examples are Apple, Whole Foods, Disney, Victoria’s Secret and Marshalls. Fourth, an organizational and marketplace benefit for a business that has a distinctive presence is they are operating with clarity of purpose versus the constant confusion and chaos caused by working under pressure.

Having a distinctive presence based on adopting and delivering wholly from a true consumer perspective has a profound affect on the elevation of business performance.

What changes do you need to make so every facet of your marketing, sales, and service protocols are truly from and in the consumers’ perspective?

For insight on how your business can become consumer-centric versus product, platform, or you-centric, visit: and

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