Even if the terminology strikes you as unfamiliar, you’ve likely encountered examples of undifferentiated marketing throughout your day-to-day activities. This marketing strategy is identifiable by its broad approach. Although it can be a risky strategy, it excels at reaching a massive audience that shares one specific value or need.
What is Undifferentiated Marketing?
Undifferentiated marketing (sometimes called a “total market approach”) is a marketing strategy that aims to reach one massive audience with a single, “universal” message. It’s common for many companies to make use of its opposite, differentiated marketing. Differentiated marketing divides consumers into market segments and appeals to each group somewhat differently. Many know this better as target marketing.
With undifferentiated marketing, all market segments receive the same campaign. Products that have a universal appeal, like everyday lifestyle products, are often marketed using this strategy. While some products and services are best tailored to a specific demographic or market segment, products that anyone and everyone can benefit from often perform well with undifferentiated marketing tactics.
Benefits of Undifferentiated Marketing
There are many benefits to pursuing an undifferentiated marketing strategy. One of these includes a significant reduction in cost towards media and creativity budgets. Rather than budgeting for multiple marketing campaigns at once with unique messages and styles, your company limits the campaign to a single message. This is because your audience is being treated as one homogeneous group.
Reduced marketing costs ultimately boost profits in the long run, and this can prove advantageous if your undifferentiated campaign is a success. Naturally, your company will see higher profit margins when using this strategy if it’s a good fit for the products and services you have to offer.
Additionally, less research is required when creating an undifferentiated marketing campaign, because you’re limiting your reach to one broad audience. Market research typically entails a thorough analysis of multiple potential audience groups, as well as their distinct interests, values, and general style. With undifferentiated marketing, your goal is simply to appeal to as many people as possible. The aim is to do this without separating audiences by their own preferences and shopping habits.
By targeting a much broader audience, you’re pitching your company’s products indiscriminately. Thus, you may end up appealing to more people overall. Through undifferentiated marketing, your campaign is accessible to many more people. This strategy even appeals to those who might not have considered that product otherwise.
Risks of Undifferentiated Marketing
Although it has its fair share of perks, undifferentiated marketing also comes with certain drawbacks. For example, according to one study, over 40% of respondents said that they prefer for products to be targeted towards them specifically, rather than “randomly” cast to everyone.
Undifferentiated marketing inherently requires some assumptions to be made regarding the overall audience, to advertise toward such a massive group of people with one message. Sometimes, this can mean that undifferentiated campaigns come off as cold or overly corporate. This is because there’s no specific relevance to one particular audience.
Competitors in your industry may use targeted marketing with multiple market segments. If this is the case, you might be at a disadvantage with this strategy. This can make your company seem out of touch with its audience. It can even give a leg up to the competition when it comes to sales.
The undifferentiated approach simplifies your company’s marketing strategy. However, there will always be a certain amount of wasted exposure involved. Pitching your product to everyone indiscriminately means inevitably reaching people who have no interest. If that’s the case they won’t be responsive to that campaign tactic.
As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide whether this cost is worth the use of this strategy. Truly, that depends a lot on your specific product.
Real World Examples
It’s not uncommon for companies whose products have a universal appeal to employ undifferentiated marketing tactics. In many cases, this approach proves to be effective. This is especially true with household or everyday products which are used by many groups of people who sometimes have little else in common.
Here are two real-world examples of companies that use undifferentiated marketing and have reaped the benefits:
Coca-Cola has been widely renowned as a huge success since its founding in 1886. Unsurprisingly, it has used undifferentiated marketing for most of its long history. Most people are familiar with Coca-Cola’s ad campaigns, which are presented to everyone without any specific targeting.
Coca-Cola’s TV advertisements, in particular, often feature people of all different ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages, reflecting their product’s broad appeal to just about anyone. This is a great example of how undifferentiated marketing can also draw in a very diverse audience from many different walks of life.
M&M’s, a world-famous candy company since 1941, owes much of its long-term success to undifferentiated marketing. Despite the company’s age, it’s managed to stay relevant and trending to this very day, and that’s partly due to its marketing approach.
After experiencing an increase in competition around the 1990s, M&M’s adapted their marketing strategy by creating characters out of their product. They assigned a unique personality to each color of M&M’s, and although they still used undifferentiated advertising, these characters allowed them to appeal to a universal audience who found the mascots charming, funny, and relatable.
These characters quickly became central to M&M’s branding and marketing and generated a huge response from consumers worldwide. This is a great example of a company that manages to be flexible and stay on modern trends while still staying true to the undifferentiated approach.
Finding The Right Fit
There’s no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to marketing. Depending on your company and the products they offer, your marketing tactics will change and fluctuate. Sometimes, a pivot is necessary in order to stay relevant and reach the right audience.
Undifferentiated marketing offers a unique opportunity to “cast a wide net” with universally appealing advertisements. This is so the message can reach a massive quantity of consumers. Some products have reached immense success with this strategy. Conversely, others are better suited to targeted ad campaigns instead. As a business owner, the onus is on you. Analyze your product and conduct thorough market research so that you can identify the strategy that works best for you.