Type of Marketing Strategy To Be Adopted: Generalization or Specialization

In Branding, Marketing - How To, Marketing Strategy by Tarun GuptaLeave a Comment

Many organizations be it a product company or an online/digital company, all are striving hard to become generalist. This type of marketing strategy can be very lethal both for the stakeholders as well as the employees. The attitude of being everything for everyone is fraught with danger and is laughable. The old conventional wisdom talk about the generalist company is far more attractive as compared to the specialist brand. The philosophy of product and service extension has become the new trend in the current marketing scenario.

Let’s take the example of marketing strategy of Colgate – Palmolive, it has killed the meaning of many its own internal brand for its consumers. Question: What exactly does Coalgate stands for in the market? Is it toothpaste, is it washing detergent, is it a shaving gel, is it a soap, actually what is it?? The resounding answer to this question is: It is all of the above. Extending the brand equity has become a cult and fad today. It has become a new normal today in the business. It has become a seminal part of the marketing plan.

In the name of saving the cost and achieving economies of scale, organizations are deliberately moving from a “specialist” that stand for a specific type of service or product or idea into a “generalized brand” that serve numerous types of products.

Example of Type Of Marketing Strategy Adopted By Tata Motors

For example, TATA motors markets a stunning 18 models in 10 nameplates, ranging from cheapest family car NANO to high end MUV and SUV’s. In addition, they produce and market mini and large trucks. So if I ask you a question what is TATA motors, is TATA a small, cheap, medium, expensive car or truck. TATA represents a “mega generalist brand”. Whatever you desire, TATA has got it. May that’s one of the main reasons why TATA motors has not been able to gain market leadership position in any of the sectors. NANO, inspite of heavy promotion and advertisement has failed to make any mark and impact in the consumers mind; where as TATA SAFARI has not done justice to its potential. TATA Motors, despite having all the right resources failed to gain market dominance.

Is that others players are better off than TATA, is that other players are using better innovative techniques to attract consumers, or is it that other brands have been more focused in their product development and slightly more focused in their marketing approach. Does generalization as a strategy should be advocated by the businesses? So to speak, it should not approached with such trepidation. It makes a great deal of sense with one important ground rule. No heavy competition should pursue the same line of business.

“In actual fact, confusion is not the problem completion is.”

Examples of Marketing Strategies Adopted By LG And The Learning’s From It

The sad saga of LG electronics in the consumer goods segment emphatically demonstrates the mentioned point. LG is world renowned product based company. So it was very much understandable that LG planned to enter into Indian market with wide variety of products i.e refrigerators, washing machine, air conditioners and mobile phones to name a few. However, the problem was very stiff and cut throat in each segment. There were specialists in each vertical. As expected, specialist brand overshadowed products in most of the segment. For example, LG launched mobile phones in India in the year 2009. It was doomed for failure. After gaining some traction it rapidly plummeted to dismal position hovering around a single digit market share. It lost out to specialized mobile dealers like Nokia, Micro Max, and HTC etc. I hope LG would soon realize the defect in its strategy until its reputation is damaged, almost, irreparably.

Which Type of Marketing Strategy Is More Beneficial To Adopt?

The larger point I am trying to make is, generalist are always exposed and susceptible. Whenever a generalist will go for battle against the specialist, generalist will always end on the losing side. What generalization does, it takes off the sheen of the brand and removes the basic identity in the mind of the consumer and the future prospect. Instead of building trust in consumers mind, it creates discomfort and commotion.

So far, taking cues from day to day operations of companies and personally analyzing the trend for past few years, generalization is a perfect strategy when the competition from the specialist never emerges, and also looking for another angle, generalization is poor if there is chance of a specialist in the guise of completion to strike back heavily. In real marketing world unlike the world of mathematics you increase sales by subtraction and not addition. To create a strong marketing impact be prepared to cut down and sacrifice. If you want to ever challenge the leader, prune the products and not bloat it.

Advantage of Choosing Specialization As A Type of Marketing Strategy Over Generalization

Come to think of it, when you move towards becoming a specialist you can focus your entire energy on one product, one interest, one benefit and one communication message. This way you can quickly move into people mind and create a long lasting impression. For example – Flipkart heavily focus on 24 hour deliver, whereas Myntra.com while promoting heavily through social media, talks about trying out apparels before making a purchase, Zara has positioned itself as the place for latest designs, Dominos Pizza focus on 30 minute home delivery etc. to name a few. Truth of the matter is, specialist has the ability to be perceived as an expert or the best. They are also sometimes tagged as originals.

To conclude: Acknowledge the distractions but remain unfazed by all of them and be focused on what you plan to do. Whatever type of marketing strategies you adopt, try hard to concentrate on what best you can do. Through focus you can aim to achieve unthinkable and reach unimaginable heights. Make sense. Right?

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