Differentiating my products is my secret weapon to making a lot of money on Amazon. It simply works. Anyone can do it if you take the time to learn what your customers love. I find critical reviews of competitors, learn from them, and use their customers’ complaints to improve my own product.
Something that’s very important to successful differentiation is knowing the difference between real value and perceived value. Perceived value is what you want potential buyers to see, and real value is what you want customers to experience. Customer service is real value; marketing is perceived value.
Let's say you’re selling a computer stand on Amazon. Real value is what the computer stand does for the customer. Does it work with their computer? Does their laptop sit on it? Can they adjust the height? Real value is important. Your product should work, obviously. But even if you have the best product in the world, without high perceived value, no one will buy it.
You can claim your product is the best on the market, with the highest quality, but if your photos suck, your description is terrible, and the title doesn’t have the right keywords, you won’t get any sales. For a product to sell, the listing needs to look amazing.
Why is perceived value so important?
Look at the competitors who are outselling you and compare your listings to theirs. What’s different? Their listings might have better perceived value.
Packaging, in terms of real value, is completely worthless. You could just wrap a laptop in bubble wrap and ship it, and it would still work as advertised. But nice packaging creates an experience, and the customer expects it. Attractive packaging makes the customer perceive the item as more valuable. Even though the packaging will likely get thrown away after five minutes, it plays a large part in the perceived value of the product. Apple does this brilliantly.
Here’s another example: if you’ve ever sold a home, you know the importance of perceived value. If a house has the best AC, a new roof, and a solid foundation, it has tons of real value. But when you bring in a potential buyer and there’s paint peeling off the front door, and the grass is overgrown, you’ve lost out in perceived value. The peeling paint doesn’t hurt the door, structurally, and the grass can always be cut, but they make the house look less valuable. Remember: we eat with our eyes, and we buy with our eyes, too.
There are a few different ways to increase perceived value. High-quality photos are important. If your photos don’t look good, people aren’t even going to click on your listing. Photos that include props and smiling faces, and photos that break down the technical specifications of the product, will all help increase perceived value.
Your product description and title also impact the perceived value of your product. The title should use strong, descriptive keywords, and the product description should be clean and easy to read.
Why you need both perceived value and real value
Perceived value helps you get sales, but you also need real value. Sellers who have high perceived value but piece-of-crap products will get tons of negative reviews, because the real value just isn’t there. Without real value, your business will fall apart. A coffee shop might look beautiful on the outside, drawing customers in, but if the coffee is disgusting, people won’t come back.
If you don’t have real value, your business will crumble. If you don’t have perceived value, your business will never start.
How to differentiate using perceived value and real value
Here’s an important tip: when differentiating your products, perceived value comes before real value. If you’re sourcing your first product, and you’re tight on funds, differentiate perceived value first. You can worry about real value later. If you’re ordering 1,000+ units of a product, you don’t have to shell out too much extra for decent packaging, but the perceived value of the product will increase dramatically.
Another simple differentiation that drastically increases perceived value is color. If you see a lot of reviews on your competitor’s product that say, “I wish this came in red,” or, “I wish there were more colors to choose from,” that’s an easy differentiation you can make. It won’t cost you much – maybe ten extra cents per item – and it doesn’t change the real value at all. But to a customer who would rather have a blue product than a red product, you’ve increased perceived value. Then, later, you can increase the product’s real value by using thicker plastic, or better hinges, or more durable straps.
Start by focusing on perceived value, to get people to buy your product, then increase real value, to keep buyers coming back. By differentiating perceived value and real value, you’ll fly ahead of your competitors.