Differentiation During Crisis and Beyond

Brand Marketing, Consumer Behavior, COVID-19

These are trying times. Social distancing is impacting every facet of life across the world. It is the antithesis of our typically social world.

From In-Store to Online
From a retail perspective, the landscape has had to change literally overnight.  The shift from in-store experience to online experience happened in the blink of an eye.  Retailers whose primary point of sale experience was happening through in-store sampling and experiential marketing, have now had to devise a plan to engage consumers in a new way.


While we don’t know how long this social distancing will last, we do know that this will cause a shift in future purchasing behaviors.  The convenience of online shopping for those who were never open to it, will cause an increase in future online purchases even after the crisis is over.

Differentiation is key
If you are familiar with Simon Sinek, you are likely familiar with his concept of “The Golden Circle”.  The concept helps give focus to how a business can stand out from similar competitors by clearly communicating its differences.  This has never been more important than it is today. Consider the number of choices a consumer is faced with in today’s current climate and the methodology being used by the average consumer:

  • Who do I want to buy from
  • What brand do I want to purchase
  • How many positive reviews are there for that brand
  • What is a key differentiator of this brand over the competing brand

Let’s look at a fictional example of the consumers online journey:

Trudy decides she needs to purchase toilet paper (good luck with that Trudy). She goes online and does a google search for “Buy toilet paper” and whatever retailer has a better SEO strategy comes up first.  She then clicks on that retailer and searches for toilet paper and is faced with 20+ choices (this is in a post Coronavirus-world). She scrolls through the choices and is overwhelmed. They all look like toilet paper but one is soft, one has ripples, one is three ply, one has a cute animal on its packaging, oh wait, so does the other.  So how does Trudy choose? She starts clicking. The first click shows a pack of toilet paper and the reviews are mixed but it is a more cost effective brand. She clicks on the next one and its a higher priced product but again the reviews are mixed so not likely worth the extra dollars.

But what if ONE brand could stand out to Trudy?  What if there was a way for Trudy to know at-a-glance that the reviews of a product were all good and the brand could be trusted? A way to scream out “Pick Me Trudy, Pick Me!”.  This is where differentiation can truly have an impact.


The Stand Out Strategy
So how exactly can a product stand out to Trudy as described above?  Through a third party endorsement program. Consumers understand that a product that has earned an endorsement is one that stands out from the competition.  It’s the equivalent of that “Pick Me!” reference above.

It provides instant credibility and a sense of security for the consumer.

In fact, independent research of our own programs Parent Tested Parent Approved and Family Tested Family Approved  showed that over 84% of consumers were more likely to purchase a product with our certification on it and that 61% of consumers said our Seal of Approval reinforced brand loyalty.   Those statistics make it clear that an endorsement has significant value.

Through our experience over the last 12 years, we found that brands both big and small can benefit from this type of endorsement. Our customers, which include national brands like P&G and Walgreens to entrepreneurial brands like Hello Bello and Casper, have been able to differentiate themselves on digital shelves through the addition of our seal of approval to their product images. They are able to stand out online at-a-glance so customers like Trudy know who to buy from.  They’ve been able to build trust and loyalty.

While social distancing is our reality for now, the convenience of online shopping will only continue to grow in popularity, way beyond this current crisis.

So the question you need to ask yourself on behalf of your brand, is how will you stand out from the competition?