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A competitive advantage can be gained by offering the consumer a greater value than the competitors, such as by offering lower prices or providing quality services or other benefits that justify a higher price. The strongest competitive advantage is a strategy that that cannot be imitated by other companies.
1. Image differentiation; Armstrong and Kotler pointed out in Principles of Marketing that when competing products or services are similar, buyers may perceive a difference based on company or brand image. Thus companies should work to establish images that differentiate them from competitors. A favorable brand image takes a significant amount of time to build. Unfortunately, one negative impression can kill the image practically overnight. Everything that a company does must support their image. Ford Motor Co.'s former "Quality is Job 1" slogan needed to be supported in every aspect, including advertisements, production, sales floor presentation, and customer service.
2. Quality differentiation; Quality is the idea that something is reliable in the sense that it does the job it is designed to do. When considering competitive advantage, one cannot just view quality as it relates to the product. The quality of the material going into the product and the quality of production operations should also be scrutinized. Materials quality is very important. The manufacturer that can get the best material at a given price will widen the gap between perceived quality and cost. Greater quality materials decrease the number of returns, reworks, and repairs necessary. Quality labor also reduces the costs associated with these three expenses.
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