Thoughts on commodities

Is your product a commodity or is it something special that people will go the extra mile for and pride themselves for having done so?

Electricity surely is a commodity. Salt as well – unless it’s the Amethyst Bamboo 9x. What about the mobile phone? Approximately 4.8 billion people own a mobile phone today. Has it become a commodity? Or the iPhone. Is the iPhone a commodity? It’s been sold roughly 1.5 billion times. Can something at that scale not be a commodity? Well, apparently. At least for some people it’s far from a commodity. It’s a device that millions of people look forward to hearing news from. People don’t do this for commodities.

There’s also the other extreme of 1:1 service. Can individual 1:1 service be a commodity? Can a service which promises a solution to your individual problem be a commodity? Apparently. Because millions of people each week get their individual teeth problems solved with a highly standardised service. In essence, although it‘s your individual problem and noone’s teeth are just like yours, the process to cure them works across quite a range of people and given that everything else is the same, you wouldn’t notice any difference.

Of course, everything else is not the same. The service may be human or robotic. It may be a nice environment or an ugly one. They make you wait an hour or treat you on time. They smile or they don’t. You feel welcome or you don’t. You may feel like there’s nothing more important than you or you may feel like everything’s more important than you.

So, where do you fit into this spectrum? Is your product a commodity? Or is it extraordinary? How about the experience of interacting with you? Do you make them feel special? Is it a 5-star service that you provide?

Keep in mind, though, that a 5-star service in itself can be a commodity as well. The perfectly polished, yet soulless hotel suite that you would exchange in a heartbeat for the warm and welcoming 2-star room of Grandma Elaine’s family operated hotel, is not much more than a premium priced commodity for the rich. Whether your product is a commodity or not has much more to do with how you yourself treat it than with the product itself.

How you communicate your product has a huge impact on how people perceive the product. Is your choice of words bland, boring and interchangeable or do you have a distinct voice that speaks to the hearts of your customers? When you speak to us, do we feel like in this moment nothing’s more important than us? If you’re gone, would we miss the personal tone of your brand story that resonated so well with our own values?

Everything is not the same if you don’t make it the same … if you dare to find your own voice … if you dare to show your passion … if you dare to make a difference.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz