Rita McGrath

Discovering New Points of Differentiation

Coauthor(s): Ian MacMillan.

Most companies, in seeking to differentiate themselves, focus their energy only on their products or services. The authors believe that if companies open up their creative thinking to their customers' entire experience with a product or service, they can uncover opportunities to position their offerings in ways that they, and their competitors, would never have thought possible. In this article, the authors present a two-part approach that can help companies continually identify new points of differentiation and develop the ability to generate successful differentiation strategies. The first part, 'Mapping the Consumption Chain,' captures the customer's total experience with a product or service. The second, 'Analyzing Your Customer's Experience,' shows managers how directed brainstorming about each step in the consumption chain can elicit numerous ways to differentiate even the most mundane product or service. They request the user to answer the following questions: How do people become aware of their need for your product or service? How do consumers find your offering? How do consumers make their final selections? How do customers order and purchase your product or service? How is your product or service delivered? What happens when your product or service is delivered? How is your product installed? How is your product or service paid for? How is your product stored? How is your product moved around? What is the customer really using your product for? What do customers need help with when they use your product? What about returns or exchanges? How is your product repaired or serviced? What happens when your product is disposed of or no longer used?

Source: Harvard Business Review
Exact Citation:
MacMillan, Ian, and Rita McGrath. "Discovering New Points of Differentiation." Harvard Business Review 75, no. 4 (1997): 133-40.
Volume: 75
Number: 4
Pages: 133-40
Date: 1997