Product/Services: More similar than different

Copernicus Reports Brand Study Results:
Most Products and Service Becoming  More Similar Than Different – January 1, 2001, Newton, Massachusetts To see summary tables  of brand trends study results,  click here

Despite billions spent on marketing and branding every year, most companies  have commoditized their product and service brands, according to a new brand trends study , “The Commoditization  of Brands and Its Implications for Marketers,” by Copernicus Marketing  Consulting.

None of the 51 product and service categories analyzed in this brand  trends study are becoming more differentiated over time and  90 percent are declining in differentiation, with banks, bookstores, bottled  water, credit cards, discount stores, and fast food restaurants leading  the pack in becoming much more similar and having the least brand differentiation.  By “commoditized,” Copernicus means a company’s products and services  are amazingly similar to competitor products and services in features,  advertising, and price.

The study also found that consumers view low price as more important  than brand name in 28 out of 37 product categories, particularly when  selecting bookstores, bottled water, gas stations, office supply stores,  pet supply stores, and rental cars.

“It’s astounding to see the huge range of products and services that are  becoming commoditized,” explains Dr. Kevin J. Clancy , chairman and CEO  of Copernicus. “Consumers can’t see differences between major brands in  most categories, and as a result, many are buying based on price. If companies  want to increase their margins—maybe even survive—they must  learn how to develop value-add brands that set them apart from the competition  in their customers’ minds.” ImagePatrol can help.

Copernicus asked consumers  to rate the leading brands in each of 48 product and service categories  in terms of whether they are becoming more similar or different over time.  Copernicus translated the measures of brand differentiation into a scale  that ranged from +100 (much more similar) to -100 (much more different).  More positive scores indicated increasing similarity between brands and  a move towards commoditization. The leading brands that received the highest  similarity scores:

• 45 for Visa and Mastercard
• 40: Staples and Office Depot
• 38: (now defunct)  and
•  37: L’Oreal and Clairol

The study also asked consumers  to evaluate the brands in general in 51 product and service categories.  The categories receiving the highest similarity scores include:

• 37 for Credit Cards
• 36: Office Supply Stores
• 35: Bottled Water
• 34: Bookstores

The categories perceived as least  similar—or most differentiated—include:

• -2: Political Parties
• 3: Jewelry
• 7: Liquor

Study Methodology
Conducted among a nationally-representative sample of 615 men and women,  age 18 or older, from Market Facts’ Consumer Mail Panel, the study investigated  the performance of 51 different product and service categories in terms  of whether they are becoming more homogenous (i.e., the brands are becoming  more similar or commodity-like) or heterogeneous (i.e., differentiated)  over time.

The questionnaire used three different measures: the first asked respondents  to evaluate whether the two leading brands in a category were becoming more  similar or different; the second queried respondents about the category  as a whole; while the third focused on whether a low price vs. brand features  or benefits were becoming increasingly more important to respondents.

To receive a copy of the Copernicus brand  trends study”The Commoditization of Brands and Its Implications for  Marketers,” please send an e-mail to