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How do you sell a product that ISN'T a commodity?

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TurboBox

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Jun 19, 2020
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With a service, it's easy to create a totally unique offer based around a customer's needs.

But with a product, unless you have millions to spend on product development, I just can't seem to find a way to sell a product that isn't commoditized.

I've managed to do $600k in sales this year with a commodity product. But the business is dying.

I'm looking to find a way to sell something that isn't a commodity product.

Any input?
 
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heysander

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But the business is dying.
Is the product category/niche dying? So are your competitors sales also dying? Is it a niche you understand very well? You might establish yourself in the niche. I know a guy making a very good living in a dying market with only 1 competitor in the country.

Do you sell one SKU or multiple? And if the latter are they related?
And where/to whom do you sell? Amazon or own webshop, b2c or b2b?

I think you can do great selling commodities, depending on the context. If you have for example a very convenient webshop with a loyalty program and cheap handy upsells, you win in SUCS from your competitors with many recurring customers.

I sell non commodities beside commodities, both powerful in their own rights. One time I offered a product based on Google trends, which is very scary when the hype is over.
 

Eudaimonium

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Sell a quick emotional solution, an exquisite feeling, a crafted perception -- delivered through a product. The item itself is a byproduct, the purchase is the solution. Purchase decision is then based on the brand image and customer's self-identification with the idea of owning the item, not the physical possession of the item itself.

Locate the customer and target with marketing based on emotion, not logic.
 

thechosen1

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I feel like this thread could be really good if more experienced people chime in.

My first thought would be that brand > commodity

For example, Apple's products are commodities (tablets, laptops, smart phones) EXCEPT that they carry the "Apple brand" with them. This makes them unique and a little bit different - different enough to charge a lot more. There are more details there, like controlling the ecosystem customers participate in (iMessage??) but that's my first thought.

That being said, there are plenty of companies that deal exclusively in unbranded commodities and make millions (or even billions), like...every oil, gas, coal, gold mining, water, food product, chemical company, etc.

And that is because Execution > Everything
 
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Itizn

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agree with the above that you should tie emotion into it.

hiring top notch copywriters and marketers is something I would look into.
 

WJK

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This thread made me think about the "Pet Rock" that happened one Christmas. It was funny and unique. It had a short run, but I bet the guy who wrote that book and sold all of the worthless rocks made a lot of money!

What's a pet rock? It was a small river rock that had a book with it on the care and training of your "pet rock". It had instructions on how to teach it to roll over. And how to feed it. That was just the beginning. The whole thing was packaged in a gift box. And they sold millions. Everyone was in on the joke.
 

Private Witt

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This thread made me think about the "Pet Rock" that happened one Christmas. It was funny and unique. It had a short run, but I bet the guy who wrote that book and sold all of the worthless rocks made a lot of money!

What's a pet rock? It was a small river rock that had a book with it on the care and training of your "pet rock". It had instructions on how to teach it to roll over. And how to feed it. That was just the beginning. The whole thing was packaged in a gift box. And they sold millions. Everyone was in on the joke.

Kinda like a Kardashian, makes a ton and basically does nothing.
 

WJK

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Kinda like a Kardashian, makes a done and basically does nothing.
You're right. The rock was just an ordinary gray rock. But, the book of instruction with that rock was laying-on-the-floor hilarious! It had suggestions as to what to do IF your particular pet rock didn't perform.
 

PapaGang

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With a service, it's easy to create a totally unique offer based around a customer's needs.

But with a product, unless you have millions to spend on product development, I just can't seem to find a way to sell a product that isn't commoditized.

I've managed to do $600k in sales this year with a commodity product. But the business is dying.

I'm looking to find a way to sell something that isn't a commodity product.

Any input?
If your definition of commodity is something produced that is indistinguishable from other competitors, then check out limited edition sneakers as an example of a commodity becoming elevated to a high level of art & design. Check out GOAT: GOAT: Buy and Sell Authentic Sneakers
Limited edition sneakers, some selling upwards of $2k.

I also think about independent jewelry makers on Instagram, or BAPE, which is a fascinating case study on how to escape the competitive herd.

Birkenstocks, Patagonia, and Cliff Bar have also jumped the gap from being just a producer selling a commodity to something special that garners a huge fan base.

Art and Design are used heavily in these business models, as well as marketing to a specific lifestyle. The marketing is baked into the business. Precise market positioning and the courage to differentiate are also keys to elevating a product beyond mere commodity.

Swatch was the first brand I encountered as a kid in the 80s that did that very thing.
The phenomenon was not about plastic $50 watches. It was a lifestyle and design thing.
 
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