A key component of your marketing plan is to identify your competition. We have found that many new entrants to the food and natural health product arena believe that there is no competition for their special offering. The reality is that there are always competitive products in the market. You might see your unique seafood snack as the only one on the market but the consumer sees it as an option among all the other high protein snacks that they can choose from. For example competition for a seafood snack could include nuts, cheese or even dehydrated bugs! Sometimes you might need fresh eyes to recognize what you are competing against. You may have a “me too” product and not even know it.

Sometimes you might need fresh eyes to recognize what you are competing against.

“Me too” marketing is where a company introduces a product which is just like its competitors in order to capture a share of an established market.

Both retail and food service buyers agree – there’s no room in the market for more “me too” products. Differentiation is the key. There is only so much room on store shelves and even less in chilled and freezer compartments.

What is differentiation?  Differentiation is the process of distinguishing a product from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market.

The first step is to identify the competition. Once you have determined what or who the competition is you can start strategizing by answering the following questions…
1. What is their competitive advantage?
2. What is their strength in the marketplace?
3. What do they do well?
4. What do you do better?
Let’s say you have identified the competition, and you actually have what might be considered a “Me too” product. What now? How can you make your product stand out from your competitors?

Using examples from the British Columbia marketplace we can learn how other companies have successfully differentiated what would be considered “me too” products. Here are three examples –
1. Hardbite Potato Chips
2. Singing Bowl Granola
3. Tree Island Yogurt

I am quite certain that none of these companies purposefully set out to develop a product to take market share from a competitive product. Not like Google did when it launched Android to capture some of the smartphone market from Apple iPhone.

Rather these companies started with a product that they could make and they believed was unique. The reality was that their products all fell into very competitive categories and in order to secure shelf space they had to differentiate themselves from the competition. They had to do market research, evaluate their competition – what its competitive advantages and strengths were – and figure out what they could do better. All three of these companies saw that they could do local better than the competition. They also saw that the competition did well on lower pricing and so they concentrated on differentiating themselves based on high quality and social responsibility. They all have a great story and use unique packaging, ingredients, quality, passion and/or community involvement to differentiate their products from the competition. And their strategies are working!

There are always competitive products in the market. Identifying your competition and differentiating your products are key for your success.