There are so many reasons why companies choose to work with me-too products. First of all, they get to reap the labor of someone else’s hard work. Second, they get to penetrate an already existing market. Finally, making the competition stronger is something that greatly benefits the consumer. On the other hand, it’s not all milk and honey in the land of me-too products either. Sure, you get a bit of an easier start, but what happens when several other entrepreneurs come up with the same idea? This is a sort of karma, as they can make your job much harder, just like you did to the original company you decided to copy.
Sure, going with me-too products helps your manufacturing, marketing and you generally don’t have to that inventive. However, in the long run, this might come back to haunt you. With this in mind, it might be much safer (growth-wise) to simply avoid me-too products and marketing and just go your own way. Here are several reasons why, as well as a couple of tips you can follow in order to become and stay unique.
1. Recognizing a “Me Too” brand
The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing there is one in the first place. Because of this, you need to learn a bit more about the features of an average me-too brand. This starts with something as simple as making the same promises as your competitors and using the same design elements. Needless to say, this is a crime that a lot of brands can be found guilty of. Next, you need to focus on the most important part, one vital question that can reveal the truth – “Do my customers have a hard time telling apart between our products and those of our competitors?”
Finally, it sometimes comes down to finesse. For instance, using the same adjectives and channels to send your message. Nevertheless, this is perhaps not the best metric, seeing how you won’t avoid common phrases and major social networks simply because your competitors are using them as well. Unfortunately, this still adds up to industry uniformity. In order to fight this, you need to find another way to become unique.
2. The difference between imitation and innovativeness
In the introduction, we might have been a bit too harsh and perhaps even failed to clearly differentiate between a similar product and a “me too” product. In most industries, it is completely impossible to come up with something new. This, however, doesn’t mean you’re copying or imitating anyone. Making a new soda is one thing but making a black soda and designing bottles to closely resemble those that Coke makes is something completely different. This is especially important in a situation where you know the two products will be displayed next to each other in stores.
The key thing you need to understand is the fact that you don’t have to go out of your way to be different. All you have to do is avoid deliberately exploiting someone else’s brand, even if you know for sure that it you won’t get into legal troubles. The key thing is to create a recognizable brand of your own. In turn, this will boost your business, enhance your credibility and make your customer engagement skyrocket. Still, working on your own brand is far from easy.
3. Offering better value-in-use
A lot of me-too companies believe that in order to trump their competitors, all they have to do is offer a similar product at a slightly lower price. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work to their benefit. Sure, frugality is a huge issue for an average consumer, but a lower price without any additional features might indicate a slightly lower quality than the original product. This doesn’t necessarily have to be true. However, the average consumer doesn’t always turn to statistics, surveys and studies in order to make up their mind about something minor. Think about it, how did Coca-Cola manage to survive, thrive and prosper with all those imitations out there?
In order to exploit this idea, you probably want to offer a higher product quality or add some extra features in order to offer better value-in-use instead of trying to lure your audience in with a lower price. Make no mistake, money is still a huge factor, but it is often more efficient to show your audience that instead of paying less, they can get more value for their money’s worth.
4. Improving the quality of your product
Earlier on, we talked about adding value to your product. Nonetheless, you need to keep in mind that you’re not the one who determines a product’s quality. This is something that is completely up to the customers. Sure, you can make your entire marketing campaign revolve around the idea that your product is high-end and this will certainly affect the point of view of your customers but, on its own, it won’t be enough.
You see, in the age of internet, social media and Reddit, your product’s hidden flaws won’t stay hidden for long. This is why, when creating a product, you need to try looking at it from the perspective of a customer. It might even be useful to take a test group in order to see in what way the average customer perceives your product. The greatest problem with this idea is the fact that you will work with a relatively small sample group, which will, in turn, create a potential of missing out on something important. Furthermore, you can motivate customers to participate in paid surveys and learn about strengths and weaknesses of your product.
5. David vs. Goliath
At the very end, why join them if you can use this adversity to your benefit? Think about it, in movies and stories, people always prefer to root for the underdog. Therefore, why not play the card of being a small company, new to the market with a big dream and a million-dollar idea that is about to revolutionize the industry. Needless to say, this is definitely not a unique thought, seeing as how there are so many SMEs and startups playing on the same card, yet it is an option worth exploring.
To succeed at this, you need to share your story, yet here once again, you are at risk of falling into the trap of sounding just like everyone else. To avoid this, make sure to do some research. Watch a couple of videos where your competitors share their stories and read some blog posts on the topic. Ask yourself one question – which of the things they’ve said seemed the most scripted? Which was the least genuine? Once you have this figured out, you will have the answer to most of your questions.
Finally, the reason why you should stay unique and not steal anyone else’s idea or profit should be quite self-explanatory. However, it’s hard to explain why this is bad when there’s a myriad of companies out there making huge profit this way. The difference, however, lies in long-term results. It is about short-term sales versus long-term profit margins.
Creating a me-too product will give you much better temporary results, however, a lot of these sales will become a one-time thing, seeing as how a portion of your market will buy your product accidentally. Now, take into consideration the fact that return customers generate about 40 percent of your entire profit and you will see just why it is better to be unique and find a way to offer something new.
Lauren Wiseman is marketing specialist, contributor to bizzmarkblog.com and entrepreneur. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in fast-changing and demanding market, strongly believing in a holistic approach to business.