“We don’t need Big Budgets, just a Point of Difference”


“We don’t need Big Budgets, just a Point of Difference” said Huib van Bockel founder of Tenzing in an interview with Marketing Week this week. And, of course, he is absolutely right and his increasingly successful new healthy plant-based low sugar energy drink is proving his point in the UK at the moment.

Van Bockel is not claiming to have invented a great new strategy. Attempting to outspend an established brand leader is rarely an option for any challenger brand – and a rather risky strategy even if you do have the budget – outmanoeuvring them by being different – better than – has always been a more practical approach.

But the difference must be relevant to your consumer. Van Bockel has identified older, hardworking, parents and more health-conscious consumers that still need an energy boost as consumers that will identify with Tenzing – and his current brand growth is an indication that he is right. But all too often brands seem to think that a technical advance, a different ingredients list, a “better” flavour is enough.

Just being “better” than other products on the market is not enough. The consumer must believe that your product is better, this is an emotional reaction to their experience of your brand – your positioning, communications and product experience – it is not a rational response just to your point of difference.

The real point of difference is not the difference in the product, it is the difference in the consumer experience. Every time that they use, drink or eat your product, that experience should remind them why this product is better.

When you achieve that then you don’t need to outspend your competitors because your best advertising is in the product experience. You don’t need to keep telling them why you are better, they experience it every time they experience your product – and they miss it whenever they stray to your competition.

It is a refrain I find myself repeating to many clients “Stop focusing on your product and start understanding how it makes your consumer respond – and why”.

As I write this I am struck by an irony. We have helped a number of new challenger brands to take significant market share by ensuring they deliver a differentiating and desirable consumer experience. But we have probably used the same tactics to help a greater number of brand leaders see off challengers that have failed to take ownership of a benefit that the consumer can really believe in.