Contrarian thinking is one of the factors that separate market leaders from the rest of the pack.  For luxury real estate marketing professionals who wish to dominate an underserved market niche, here is an example of a billion dollar company that has done just that by thinking differently.

Panera, known for its hearty soups, salads and $7 sandwiches, made with freshly backed artisan breads, served on real dishware in a very comfortable setting, exemplifies such a market leader. With 1420 stores, and a roughly $3 billion market capitalization it has taken a page from Starbucks, and is thriving by providing its customers with a “third place” to gather,  apart from home and the work place.  

The mark of an effective brand is one that can communicate how it is different from its closest competition in just a few words. For Panera those words are “healthy, tasty &, affordable, yet upscale”. 

Subway claims to serve healthy, affordable sandwiches too, but not on artisan bread and not on ceramic dishes. Tasty, is more of a subjective attribute which must be taken out of the equation when comparing the two brands. But, the furnishings in Subway are not upscale like you would find in a well- appointed Starbucks store.

Can you see how the DNA of a brand (the summation of its primary brand attributes) completely changes when one additional factor, “upscale” is added to the “recipe”?   Can you see how adding one additional brand attribute can appeal to a specific demographic that was underserved (by Subway for example) and thus create an entirely new brand category? Can you see that an “upscale” version of Subway was an uncontested market niche and now has become a separate brand category in the minds of its target market?

Can you articulate the brand attribute(s) that sets you apart from your competition? Think contrary to the norm and you will stand out in a meaningful way.  Your target market will appreciate that you have done so and they will follow you instead of your competition! Only then will your dfferentiating brand attribute become your "bread and butter".



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