From differentiation to making a difference.

In this succinct and thought provoking video. Umair Haque (HBR blogger, author of the New Capitalist Manifesto) shows how marketing is being turned on its head from a focus on differentiation (the vain attempt to show that each product is bigger, better, faster than the next one when all know its is virtually the same) to making a difference (showing the capacity of the product or experience to make a person’s life better.

Marketers have to take on the task of amplifying and enhancing human potential 

Umair cites Nike – instead of describing the features of a particular shoe, Nike talks about how the shoes will make you a better runner.

The more we try to differentiate the same old stuff, the more we’re playing a game of diminishing returns.

the experience economy, pine & gilmorePine & Gilmore in their seminal work The Experience Economy written back in 1999 suggested that turning a product into an experience was the first step a producer could take to both differentiate and combat the sameness of a commodity. But the best chapter in the book is its last when they anticipate The Transformation Economy (see a review written back in 2006) which is unfolding now

As described in our paper, Can Tourism Change its Operating Model?  (subscribe to receive) and summarised here,  the tourism industry has a major problem – year on year returns and margins shrink as the industrial model relentlessly turns sacred places into commodities. We are increasingly swimming in a sea of sameness.

A conscious host understands that their underlying purpose is to create the conditions whereby a guest experiences some form of highly personal, subjective transformation. Their experience makes them a better person; in Haque’s words “it amplifies and enhances human potential.”

That’s why I believe it so important we remind ourselves of the deeper underlying purpose of travel

So travel marketers, how can the experience you offer change the lives of your guest in some meaningful way? How will your guests return home changed? 

7 Responses to “From differentiation to making a difference.”

  1. Thank you Daniel for your comments. I have been tracking your company (www.engaging cultures.com) for a while and sense that you are already implementing many of these ideas. I’ve not met Umair Haque but I find him to be extremely accurate in his observations. His writing style is a breath of fresh air!!

    Thank you Fiona for your observation. Mass tourism originated in the western world and we are used to be the viewers not the viewed. That’s about to change! I do wonder how we will react to be being objects of attention as opposed to subjects and whether we are planning to facilitate this changing role and if so for whose benefit?

    Tim, thank you for mentioning Umair’s concept of betterness. I haven’t finished his paper but agree that we should not set our sights on simply putting wrongs to right but on conceiving a much improved way of being and doing that expresses far more of our potential. He suggests that a foundational principle of a new prosperity is “living lives that matter in human terms”.

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  2. Anna, agreed, great thought provoking video. We are integrating these concepts into our operating model; not only because we want to, but as mentioned we HAVE to. Looking forward to reading more (and learning more) from your blog and insights. Thanks.

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  3. Anna, agreed, great thought provoking video. We are integrate these concepts into our operating model; not only because we want to, but as mentioned we HAVE to. Looking forward to reading more (and learning more) from your blog and insights. Thanks.

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  4. Spot on Anna. He’s right on the button – and it’s happening. Tim – what’s coming through with the Chinese market is a strong interest in our everyday NZ culture – how we live our lives as a multi-cultural society today with migrants from all around the world. Cheers, Fiona

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  5. Anna, I too have been considering Umair’s thinking in relationship to the opportunities for fresh value(s) proposition for cultural tourism. New Zealand has significant scope to create value through thinking about a ‘betterness’ (high value) rather than ‘more’ (low value) approach.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tourism – What’s the Point? Part 3 AFAR readers answer the question | Conscious.Travel - July 18, 2012

    […] is full of articles on the importance of differentiating your business by – showing you care; making a difference and having a deeper or higher purpose than simply maximising profit to a few shareholders each […]

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  2. Tourism – What’s the Point: Part 3 | Conscious.Travel - July 18, 2012

    […] is full of articles on the importance of differentiating your business by – showing you care; making a difference and having a deeper or higher purpose than simply maximising profit to a few shareholders each […]

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