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Customer Centricity - from 'USP' to 'USB"

On I can choose 766 types of electric toothbrushes, 4.000 laptops over $500 and 797 cordless drills. In this ocean of products, it is obvious consumers needs to apply "choice shortcuts" that give the feeling of making a good choice. Strong USPs are essential here, but how do you write those?

Old-school shortcuts

Without immediately resorting to psychological heuristics, even the most basic marketeers know consumers generally cannot or do not want to make a considerate choice for the purchase of a product. Either because they do not have the time for it or because they do not have all the information available.

Consumers want to simplify their choice process. One way to help the consumer make a choice is to present positive product reviews. Consumers quickly make the bridge with your product, just like others, that they will also be happy with your product. A promotion always works well; a from-to price gives the feeling of a good deal. And what about a positive friendly experience (everything for a smile 😊, a beautiful unpackaging experience, etc.) - it has a positive effect on repeat purchases. And of course, a quality icon on products give confidence, a beautiful (design) packaging or stylish advertisement give a more luxury look & feel to products. Old-school shortcuts have something of "tricks" or perhaps "sly sales tricks" to convince the consumer to buy a product, without putting the focus on the product itself. Not to mention that most of these methods are "over-used" (all good reviews, all within the same price range, all with about the same design) – which increasingly limits the value for consumer.

What’s in it for me?

You hardly ever see product information about what the product has to offer for you as a user. On e-commerce websites, consumers easily get lost in the little information they get in their search results. Information is often abstract with technical terms - think of names of product series (Oral-B Pro 3 3000) and a feature like ‘3D rotating’.

Granted, the space to put information under the product is very limited, so perhaps it's a bit much to ask to give a description about the advantage of the 3D rotation and the fact that the Oral-B Pro series is very different from the Oral-B Vitality series - or not. Choice filters on e-commerce websites such as do not always provide solace when reasoning from consumer needs. How does someone know whether to choose a toothbrush that is sonic, magnetic, pulsing, vibrating, three-zone back-and-forth or 360 degrees rotating? Sometimes you see a ray of hope, such as with the choice filters for drills. Here some e-commerce websites at least lets you choose for which job you should use it: drilling in wood or drilling in gypsum. That's at least clear. But wait, I don't want to buy a drill that can only drill in wood, right? How do I solve this now?

Refresh your USPs Not only do e-commerce websites struggle with simplifying product choices, but in product advertisements and direct-to-consumer websites sales, brands find it difficult to decide what to say about their products. After all, not every brand can get away with Apple-style ads where you only show an image of the product and the number of the series (e.g. iPhone 14).

It would be valuable to truly help the consumer with their choice by making it clear in understandable, non-technical language what a product has to offer with clear USPs, claims, features, and benefits - whatever you want to call them. To switch from "product thinking" to "value thinking", you need to take the consumer as a starting point. The credo: From Unique Selling Props to Unique Selling Benefit. How do you do that?

How to write a customer centric USP (USB 😊) in 3 steps

Step 1: Get to know your target audience better

  • Make an inventory what product benefits you/your team have already formulated.

  • Use AI tools like CopyMonkey to scrape and analyze consumer reviews in your product category.

  • Ask ChatGPT or another text-generating AI tool what the most important consumer frustrations in your product category are.

  • Investigate the manifest "frustrations and needs" experienced by consumers in your target group through online surveys. A brief survey within a regular consumer group can now be easily done with limited investment.

  • Combine these insights to get inspiration for (re)formulating and reviewing the benefits that your product has for the consumer.

Step 2: Carefully formulate the product benefits with your team

  • Determine which "manifest" (clear/expressed) frustrations/doubts there are among consumers when using products in your category. Formulate various USPs/claims that connect these "frustrations/concerns" to a solution that your product can offer (so-called pain relievers).

  • Then, determine the benefits that your product offers that the consumer may not be aware of yet. Formulate this apects an additional benefit, without specifically mentioning the concern/frustration (as the consumer does not recognize it yet).

Step 3: Test and experiment

  • Make a long list of possible benefits that reflect the benefits of your product.

  • Test these benefits to see which ones receive the most preference (ranking) and value for your target group. Also look at differences among target groups and differences between markets. For example, the German consumer often has different preferences than the Dutch consumer. There are standardized methods for this, such as the Benefit Value Test.

  • Based on the results of the Benefit Value Test, set up a real experiment (A/B test, or online ads) to find out which of the most important benefits get the most traction. Take a close look at what it does to your conversion.

  • Use the benefits with the highest conversion on your website, ads, and e-commerce channels.

Get ready to shine!

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