Commoditization is all around us and it’s been here for quite some time. For most of our journey with commodity marketing we’ve accepted it, even loved it at times. Only things are changing. Increasingly we are yearning for something more meaningful and authentic that speaks to our souls.
We want the singer who is also the songwriter who writes about her own personal challenges and life experiences and who arranges, records and performs. And when she performs it feels real and deep. We want less of the pretty face with a team of writers, arrangers, choreographers, producers and marketing pros who tell her how to dress and how to dance and who her target audience is.
Even from the mundane, like household products, cleaning supplies, and automotive products. Yes, we want price and we want value and we want convenience, but we also want verve and color and soul. We want more artisan products like bread, chocolate and coffee, and we want our ordinary products to mean something too.
Recently I’ve been shopping for new tires for my car. I called around, gave the size, 195/70 R14, and conveyed that I want a 45,000-mile rated tire. So I asked, “What’s your price installed?” I’m looking for a commodity, a tire that fits my need for the lowest price.
Except one tire shop owned by a Mexican family who speaks very little English and who was actually not the least expensive option caught my attention. I brought my wife Maria along who is fluent in Spanish to facilitate the conversation. The vibe I got was a small hard working family operation realizing a small slice of the American dream. The less expensive alternative is a national chain, with a hard sale salesman who questioned me about when I was looking to buy and was I shopping around. For a few dollars more I’m giving my business to the Mexican family and I also know that any profits they retain will stay in our local community.
The Mexican business owner didn’t pressure me. He seemed relaxed and so I felt relaxed with him. The national chain has a quota and they achieve their quotas through commodity marketing: sell reasonably good tires at the lowest rates, offer coupons, advertising inserts, newspaper ads, etc., and when that doesn’t work pressure the guy on the other end of the phone. The Mexican family owned shop doesn’t do any marketing. They rely on word of mouth, which they only get if they consistently do good work for a fair price.
The remedy for commoditization is to be unique and produce and provide the products and services that are uniquely us, and unique to the world. The remedy is to be our authentic selves and be willing to make small sacrifices to do business with those who are also doing their authentic work in the world, even if it costs a little more.