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Lateral Marketing – What is it?

When the traditional approach to marketing and advertising is no longer enough, the idea for lateral marketing emerges. In line with his concept, companies are looking for solutions that will meet the needs of customers in a completely different way. What does that mean exactly? Lateral marketing does not assume a complete re-industry of the company or a change in the products / services it offers, but only questions the previously adopted concept and extends it with a new approach. You can say that it adds flavor to its offers, something that will make them stand out from other competing offers.

Lateral Marketing: Definition

Lateral marketing involves the creation of an innovative product (or service) that will have a certain feature different from other products or services offered by the competition. The difference, however, is not in the features related to design or price, but in the specific added value that will satisfy the consumer’s additional need, making the new product completely different from the competition, even incomparable.

Taking into account the life cycle of a product (or service), the use of lateral marketing causes a given product to “regress” to a position of growth, and thus gives the company a chance to extend the life of a given product and the related financial and branding benefits.

Nowadays, consumers are inundated with various offers of the same products. For many, it is a real challenge to choose a product, without thinking about it and spending time reaching for new products from the shelf and reading labels, and finally putting something into the basket. Or, as is the case with online shopping, spending time scrolling through store websites to choose your target product.

The same challenge faces entrepreneurs who try to differentiate themselves from the competition. Although the products they offer seem to be different, for example, have a different color, smell, more or less premium price, they are advertised differently – they ultimately satisfy the same need or set of needs. And when it comes to meeting the needs of consumers, then the concept of lateral marketing comes in, according to which the company should seek new opportunities for products / services so that they can also meet other needs that were not previously taken into account, and thus differ from competition.

The areas of application of Lateral Marketing

It can be said that Lateral Marketing is about “reinventing the wheel”, ie adding to a product (or service) a certain characteristic that will make it meet new consumer needs (previously undiscovered). The issue of positioning an offer in lateral marketing can be divided into three levels:- market level – elements such as needs, target customers, new situations or applications;
– product level – an innovation introduced in the product itself, application, packaging, brand attribute or in terms of purchase;
– the level of marketing tools – i.e. innovation at the level of price, promotion and distribution.

Relatively simple ideas can guarantee a strong competitive advantage and a leadership position in a given market. The goal of Lateral Marketing is innovation on one of the above-mentioned levels. So it is enough for the company, based on research and analysis of consumer needs and insights, to implement an innovative idea, thereby changing the product / service itself and surprising the competition.

Lateral Marketing – application examples

The best known examples of the use of lateral marketing are those at the product level. The introduced innovation involves changes to the properties, functions or features of the product, thanks to which it will stand out from the competition’s products. And so, for example, from the point of view of the need, the new product will satisfy the “old need” (that is, the one for which it was ultimately created) and the new one, for which it was updated, thus becoming a completely new product, such as e.g. Kinder chocolate egg, to which a toy was added inside – thus changing the chocolate for children into a surprise egg, in which, apart from chocolate, you can find a toy – usually the one on the top that every child wants to have.

In the case of innovation in the use of the product itself, we will meet an example for slightly “larger children”, which can be an inflatable beach ring, previously used only for swimming, and when enriched with additional space for a beer – it becomes an inseparable gadget of many beach goers. Innovations introduced in line with lateral marketing do not have to be that crazy and complicated. An example are the product modifications themselves, such as yoghurts, muesli or other “sugar free” or “vegan” products.

Examples of lateral marketing in services may be the method of providing the service itself, e.g. adding additional time to provide the service – “we also deliver packages at weekends”, “we are also open at night”, etc. Moreover, adding a distinguishing feature to the basic offer, such as . a dedicated supervisor, the ability to refer to the price, if there is a cheaper product somewhere on the market, etc. are also examples of lateral marketing.

Examples of the use of lateral marketing at the level of marketing tools include, for example, the method of distribution (change or a new place where the customer can purchase the product or use the service), eg “now professional hair dye also in your home!”.

Other lateral marketing techniques are:

– substitution – consisting in changing or removing several elements and replacing them with others, or imitating some elements with another.
– elimination – complete removal of several elements in a given product,
– combination – adding one or more new elements to the basic product while keeping the other elements unchanged,
– inversion – adding “no” to one or more elements – that is, often eliminating a disturbing element, such as earphone cables, making them wireless,
– exaggeration – consists in enlarging or reducing an element in the product so that it differs from the standard version,
– switching – consists in changing the order, e.g. in services, to the benefit of the client.

Lateral Marketing – how to apply in a company?

The use of an innovative approach to the product itself, market or marketing tools is one of the best ideas that a company can come up with and it is a slightly different approach from SEO or SEM advertising that works in a very competitive market. It is worth noting that this innovation does not have to be spectacular, but should rather work for the benefit of the client and meet his needs. Introducing such innovation requires, first of all, an analysis of the market, customer needs and its path, both offline and online. It is worth supporting such a quantitative analysis with a qualitative analysis and then tackling it at meetings with the communication department. Carrying out innovations according to lateral marketing is a long process, but its effects can be very positively surprising!

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