The development of product or service differentiation is critical in articulating competitive advantage. The key drivers in delivering design differentiation can be categorised in the following areas:
Key drivers for differentiation and competitive advantage Performance
Designing a product that has a superior performance than other products, such as speed or performance.
Product enhancements can be wide ranging and are often added to in order to extend the product lifespan or to remain competitive with new product ranges. An example of this is the addition of a camera function to a mobile phone.
Designing products that are robust and reliable. This provides consumers with a positive image of the product and also reduces costs in customer service functions (i.e., returns).
Convergence and integration
Designing products that provide integration and conformance to industry standards. As the world becomes closer and more connected, the development of new products that integrate into other platforms is essential in the design process. A good example may well be the addition of a USB connection on electrical equipment.
Durability of products
Products need to be designed to be ‘fit for purpose’ and durable. Consumers expect the product to last!
Product lifecycle costs
Increasingly, products are required to be designed with total lifecycle considerations. This can be from point of manufacturing (including the raw materials and production methods) through to transportation, energy consumption and recycling.
Your products should be designed to make sure they are easy to service and a network needs to be created that allows consumers to get products repaired in a convenient way.
The way the product looks and feels is very important. Often, products that are produced with form and function stand the test of time.
Designing competitive advantage
Include the design process at an early stage. Keep these simple principals in mind throughout the development and review your products and services against this criterion on a regular basis.