Unique selling proposition

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The Unique Selling Proposition (also Unique Selling Point) is a marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern among successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands. The term was invented by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Today the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects.

Today, a number of businesses and corporations currently use USPs as a basis for their marketing campaigns.


[edit] Origin

In the early 1940s, Ted Bates & Company carried out extensive market research on successful advertising campaigns. In particular they identified two desirable attributes: the penetration and the usage pull (Reeves 1961, p. 10).

The pattern they found among campaigns that produced a high usage pull was the basis for the theory of the USP. It may also be known as the unique selling point.

[edit] Definition

In Reality in Advertising (Reeves 1961, pp. 46–48) Reeves laments that the U.S.P. is widely misunderstood and gives a precise definition in three parts:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: "Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit."
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

[edit] Examples

Some good current examples of products with a clear USP are:

Some unique propositions that were pioneers when they were introduced:

  • Domino's Pizza: "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less -- or it's free."
  • FedEx: "When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight"
  • M&M's: "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand"
  • Wonder Bread: "Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways"

[edit] Criticism of USP theory

The perception of something being a USP is somewhat contentious. In the examples above, Head & Shoulders is not the only product on the market that will get rid of dandruff, neither is Domino's the only pizza delivery chain with a similar thirty-minute guarantee. In both instances, the specific product may be viewed to be a market leader due to its innovation of the original USP, yet has stopped being viewed as unique in the public eye. In other words, what was originally a USP has become merely a perception of superior quality, something quite different.

[edit] References

Reeves, Rosser (1961), Reality in Advertising, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, LCCN 61007118 

[edit] See also

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