Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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4 Unique selling point

Oxford Dictionaries defines unique selling point (commonly abbreviated to USP) as ‘A feature or characteristic of a product, service, etc. that distinguishes it from others of a similar nature and makes it more appealing.’ (Oxford Dictionaries, 2021). This is something that a product or organisation possesses, marking it out from the competition and giving it an advantage, or a competitive edge, with customers.

Activity 5 Examples of unique selling points

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Think of three successful products or organisations that you know about and identify their USP in each case. An example has been provided to give you a start.

Table 4 Examples of unique selling points
Product Unique selling point (USP)
Dyson Ballbarrow Replacing the front wheel of a wheelbarrow with a ball to make it easier to operate
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Comment

Most successful products or organisations have a USP of some kind, even if it is just a modification of an existing feature. Identifying and developing the USP of a product often requires investigation of products currently in the marketplace and the needs of customers, plus further investment in research and development before a product can be released.

Identifying and developing the USP of a product or an organisation takes time and effort, and many large companies spend considerable sums of money – on research, development, testing, advertising, etc. – to ensure that their strategies are successful.

Identifying the USP involves a number of important steps:

  1. Understanding what customers value in particular products or organisations. This will involve conducting market research to find out what customers think, including customers of competitor products or organisations. This will enable a list of key criteria to be drawn up to define what customers want and value.
  2. Ranking the organisation and its competitors using the key criteria identified in the first step. This requires some honesty and self-knowledge, but the ranking should be based on external data gained from market research so that the results are objective.
  3. Establishing, on the basis of the second step, the USP for the product or organisation. This might be something that the organisation is already doing or producing, or it could be a product or service that could be developed in the future. For example, in Activity 4, Robinson’s discovered that its existing USP was the individual service that it provided to customers, which it could exploit to differentiate themselves from PriceCut. It also found out, however, that there appeared to be a gap in the market for a shop selling local and organic produce, so it was able to develop this as a further USP.

Activity 6 Identifying my organisation’s USP

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Think of your own organisation – or one in which you have worked or would like to work – and how it compares in the market with its competitors.

Can you identify your organisation’s USP and those of its competitors? Look back at the results of Activity 1 to help you think of competitors.

Can you use this knowledge to suggest a future direction for your organisation based on what you now know about its products and its competitors?

Table 5 Identifying my organisation’s USP
Organisation Unique selling point (USP) Future direction?
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Comment

This activity should have started you thinking about your organisation in the context of its competitors and to identify what makes it different – i.e. its USP. You should then be able to use this information to think ahead about how this advantage might be maintained or even strengthened.

This section has enabled you to investigate your organisation’s USP, which provides it with a specific edge in the marketplace. The final piece in the jigsaw is an organisation’s supply chain, and you will look at this in the next section.

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