Commodities are the sad sacks of marketing. And brandSTOKE today has a great post on how to tell if your product – even your radio product – is a commodity.
Do you emphasize price in your marketing? In the radio context, do you argue that radio is great because it’s “free”?
Do you emphasize convenience? That is, is being readily available the best argument you can think of for your brand – or your distribution channel?
Do you emphasize “table-stakes” attributes? That is, images that are owned by all or are un-ownable. “Continuous music” comes to mind.
Do you mimic your competitors?
Do you create clever names and logos for universally available features?
Do you listen to the echo chamber, the chorus of “here’s-how-we-do-things” that reverberates throughout every company and industry?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, then you are a commodity.
I would add more, of course:
Do you depend on historical habit as the key to your future greatness?
Do you see your brand as integral to its primary channel of distribution?
Are you named after brands that exist in hundreds of other radio markets, now that it’s so easy for me to find all those other stations online (unless you’re a national brand, of course)?
Are you dependent primarily – or exclusively – on music for your audience story?
The problem with commodities is not that they don’t rank high in Arbitron. They might.
The problem is that they are not defensible when habits or technology or competitors change.
Commodities are vulnerable to disaster.