unique selling point (USP) – The key benefit of a product or service which differentiates it from the competition
To remember what unique selling point (USP) means use the following mnemonic:
This product is unique and when we started selling it everyone was pointing (unique selling point) at it. It obviously had a key benefit.
A unique selling point is one way to separate your product or service from the competition. This selling point must be clearly beneficial to the customer and be the central part of your marketing message. USPs can come in different forms, such as an innovative new feature, superior quality materials or the lowest price.
An example of a USP is Nike’s Vaporfly running shoe. This shoe’s design gives runners a noticeable advantage over their competitors, leading to the vast majority of the best long-distance athletes using them. The advantage they give the user is the unique selling point that separates them from the rival shoe brands. It is common for USPs to be copyrighted or patented to ensure that rival companies do not simply copy them for their own products or services.
Another example of a product’s unique selling point is the Tesla supercharger network. Unlike any other electric car, a Tesla has access to proprietary chargers, with the largest network of fast charging stations worldwide. Due to the fact that electric cars have shorter ranges than petrol or diesel cars, fast charging networks are a major point to consider when buying one, as they will need to be charged on long journeys. Having their own widespread network of chargers therefore gives Tesla a unique selling point to separate themselves from the competition.
One more example is the one-day, free delivery for all Amazon Prime customers. Even 20 years ago, the idea of offering one day delivery on over 10 million products to millions of users each day was thought to be impossible, but after building a massive distribution network, Amazon were able to offer this unique service. As the unmatched scale of Amazon allow them to include this USP in the Prime Service, competitors cannot match it.
Think of a unique selling point as “what you have that the competition doesn’t”.
With the carbonated drinks market heavily saturated with competition by the Coca Cola corporation and Pepsi Co inc, you wouldn’t think there was room for another player. Richard Branson tried to gain a market share with a new cola drink, attempting to use a unique selling point that it was “better tasting”. However, the difference in taste was based on personal opinion, and the general public didn’t support these claims. It wasn’t unique enough.
Red Bull built their carbonated drink around the unique selling point that their drink “gives you wings”, which encapsulates the idea that the energy drink enhances performance and provides an energy boost to help consumers achieve their goals. This has been a massive success and created a very profitable product.
It is worth noting that companies try to make more than one unique selling point when they attack a market. BSA and Triumph were the largest motorcycle producers in the world during the 1950s. However, Honda are now the dominant motorbike company by far. They achieved this by targeting more than one unique selling point. They beat BSA and Triumph by making sure their bikes:
- Had no leaks
- Had better styling
- Were faster
- Didn’t break down
- Were longer lasting
- Were cheaper
These were six unique selling points for one brand. No wonder they outsold BSA and Triumph which both later failed and were liquidated.