Ever wondered why there’s room for so many companies offering variations on the same product? Case in point; next time you have a hankering for pizza, you can likely choose from a wide selection — delivery from a chain, dining at an authentic family restaurant, or enjoying a wood-fired pie from a hip new spot downtown. The same principle applies to pretty much everything from clothing to coffee to groceries to pet supplies.

The reason there’s so much room for variation within any given niche is the existence of the unique selling proposition (USP) — also known as the differentiating factor setting each brand apart from its competition. Another useful way to think of USP is having an “angle.” Without one, it’s difficult, if not impossible to stand out amongst more clearly defined competitors.

On the flip side, trying to cast a wide net by doing everything for everyone — rather than narrowing your focus with a USP — typically results in your brand doing many things averagely rather than a few things excellently. 

Here’s more on how retailers can define and develop their unique selling proposition for the purpose of acquiring and retaining customers.

Identify What Sets Your Product or Service Apart
The first step is taking stock of your offerings, noting along the way when you’ve hit upon a characteristic that does more than just describe your company — it defines it.

It’s important to note a USP is more than just a provision like free returns; it’s something your competitors cannot replicate.

- Longevity/craftsmanship: 
            Saddleback Leather; “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”

- Health-consciousness: 
            Pipcorn; “Gluten free, non-GMO, small batches.”

- Customizability: 
            Third Love; “We have the right fit.”

Each of these USPs address pain points within their respective niches; products falling apart, unhealthy snacks and one-size-fits-all apparel failing to meet the demands of different bodies. Thinking in terms of resolving pain points is an excellent way to settle upon a USP that speaks to buyers looking for a better alternative — or a solution to a frustrating problem.

Understand Why Customers Choose Your Brand
Customers are at the core of every USP, so understanding their buying behaviors and preferences is absolutely key for retailers looking to hone a USP that resonates with members of their target audience.

There are a few ways to go about understanding customers on this deeper level. Surveys are useful for collecting firsthand feedback as to how customers feel about your company and why they support it — a major clue about what they perceive your USP to be. Retail analytics software further empowers enterprises to dig into droves of customer data to fully flesh out the demographics and behaviors of customers — and uncover patterns in the data indicating potentially noteworthy insights about performance.

Finding a fitting USP is less about deciding what you want your brand to be and more about determining what it is. This is where customer insights are crucial; buyers see your brand as it is from the outside rather than taking an aspirational insider view — which can help companies avoid the fallacy of trying to force a USP that falls flat with shoppers.

Fulfill an Existing Need or Want Within Your Market
As we mentioned above, aiming to address customer pain points is a smart way to go about building a USP. Along the same line of thought is identifying gaps in your market where customers’ wants and/or needs are unmet. This will entail competitive analysis to identify gaps and opportunities for your company to do what others are not.

Defining and developing a unique selling proposition is a matter of identifying market gaps, deeply understanding customers, addressing existing pain points and considering your company’s offerings thoroughly enough to settle on what sets you apart.