I am a fan of Starbucks. They have successfully turned something as simple as buying a cup of coffee into something of an adventure whenever you visit one of their stores. Once there, we are so distracted with the mind boggling choices available that when the cashier asks us for $5+ it seems like a perfectly fair price to be paying. Tracing back my steps before I ordered this concoction, began with….getting off a long flight and waiting for my connection at Bangkok airport. Needing a jolt I found myself wandering through the Duty Free looking for a place to enjoy a cup of coffee and maybe, even write a post! There must have been at least 5+ coffee shops that I passed up before I found Starbucks. The uniformity of their cafes makes one feel comfortable, add to this familiarity with the menu and the quality and you have an easy decision right from the onset. The rest just falls into place although we pay heavily for this experience, I do think however that I get value every time I patronize one of their cafes. From a business perspective this is an awesome example of how a brand can connect with so many customers, and take a standardized product and differentiate it so well.
For this post I want to focus on the Dark Berry Mocha Frappuccino. This product shows the depth and variety of the offerings available at the cafe. Product and service depth is something that is of great importance to most businesses. When you sell a product that is relatively standardized, it is important to constantly innovate and add a twist to your product or service line. We have seen this done in great depth in the fast-food industry where you have most major chains coming up with new concoctions to catch their target customer’s attention. In apparel, you have custom designs or even designs that can be fully customized by the customer him/herself. The prevalence of choices provides your business with leverage to not only attract new customers, but to provide loyal customers with something to come back to. This is critical in niche markets where competition is high and customers have low switching costs.
A key factor that needs to be kept in mind when differentiating your product/service lines is to work hard not to lose the core essence of your product/service. Starbucks constantly innovates with coffee based drinks which is their core product. If they were to introduce a ton of non-caffeine drinks they would be diluting their own brand as well as confusing their target audience about their specialization. It is thus important that when you think of deepening your product/service lines that you do not forget the core product/service that you provide. When thinking about what lines to deepen and how to do it, ask your customers. I have always found this to be the best way to build on top of products and services. Customers are always willing to tell you what may be missing or what they would like. When you find something with a large appeal, you may be onto something.
Do you have any good examples about product lines that have been deepened successfully? Would really like to hear from you.