Differentiation based on Additional features

The mega feature as a differentiator: Companies in the television, audio and refrigerator industries in India, for example, came with ‘mega sized’ products and used the ‘mega’ feature as part of their differentiation effort.

In television sets, BPL, Videocon, Onida, Philips, Optonica, and Bush have introduced large screen models. The screen sizes first went up from 21 inches to 29 inches, and them to 33 inches. Philips started the trend with its 29 inch model. In audio, BPL came out with its D 1000 digital fidelity system. The speaker of this new system was 34.65 inches tall. In refrigerators, Godrej initiated the mega trend with the introduction of its 300 litre Sumo model. This was followed by a 390-litre, double door model which was way ahead of all other refrigerator brands in terms of Size. BPL followed with its two-door 230 litre model, three door 230 litre and four door 350 litre frost free models. Then, it brought its 390 litre model, which had two compressors, one for the freezer and the other for the main section. BPL’s four door refrigerator mode, BR 3504, came with four different temperature zones, a deodoriser, a humidity filter and a special high energy efficient compressor. All these companies differentiated their products on the theme of bigness.

Aristocrat suitcase with wheels: When the manufacturers of Aristocrat molded luggage introduced suitcases with wheels, it was a case of offering a unique convenience to the user. Instead of lifting and carrying the packed suitcase, the user could now pull it along the ground on its wheels. The features did amount to distinctiveness.

Dunlop’s Olympus: When Dunlop introduced its Olympus car tire, it built in certain distinctions. The differentiation brought about by the company is explained below in its own words:

Most tires don’t recognize the fact that every car is different and needs its own special kind of tire. So, when Dunlop designed the Olympus range, they studied each car separately. For the Maruti, they designed a tire specially for its front wheel drive. They built an extra wide tire for the Premier, because it goes through a lot of wear and tear on city roads. And for the Ambassador, they reinforced tire walls with extra rubber to take the extra weight. Maruti, Premier and Ambassador are seen as three different cars not the same car in three different sizes.

It was a case of product differentiation real, buyer value. It readily rendered a competitive edge to Dunlop.

Packaging Contributing to Differentiation: While discussing the major decision areas in product management, we saw the developments taking place in packaging. The innovations taking place in packaging materials, package design and convenience were discussed in detail, with illustrations. Frooti in aseptic tetrapack, Brylcream in a handy tube, LeSancy in a see through pack and Harpic toilet cleansers with an application friendly nozzle are all instances of differentiation though packaging.

Differentiation Through product Design: Product design has a lot to do with product success. Quite naturally product design becomes a good avenue for product differentiation. A well designed product makes real differences to the customer. It ensures product reliability and durability. In addition, it enhances user comfort.

Kinetic Honda: in the first half of the 1990s, the two wheeler industry witnessed a recession. Countering the effect of recession and scoring over competition was a real challenge for any two wheeler firm during that period. When the industry growth rate was negative, Kinetic Honda came up with excellent performance. Kinetic Honda’s market research revealed that most existing brands of two wheelers were not adequately user friendly. Starting was the main problem. Kinetic Honda brought in the new wave scooter, which had electronic ignition and could do away with the kick start routine. The users, especially women found this improvement a blessing. The new model contained a whole range of other features too, such as automatic gear shifting, choke built in indicators and a streamlined aerodynamic body design. Kinetic Honda made these features, especially the ‘kick start’ as its differentiation plank. Not only did the company succeed in marketing its two-wheeler in the years of recession, it even embarked upon a program of expansion.

Titan watches: Titan Watches too used product design as a differentiation plank. The wrist watch had become almost a monotonous, standard product, just a utility. Titan introduced more than 500 models incorporating latest world trends in watch design. Its Classic range combined the elegance of gold and leather, the Royale range was all gold and precious metal and the Aurum range in 18 carat gold ad studded with gems and colored stones.