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The Law of Exclusivity

First off I want to thank my friends Pete Primeau and Doug Stewart for interviewing me for their podcast on the Primeau Furniture Sales blog/podcast. It was a lot of fun to do and it game me a chance to talk about the latest with my new venture Spink and Edgar. We also talk about the luxury category and what is wrong with it today so if you have any interest give it a listen HERE. On with the blog….

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing #6 says that “When a competitor owns a word or a position in the prospects mind, it is futile to attempt to own the same word.” I am not sure that I agree completely with this law.

I understand that Volvo translates to “safety” but is that the rule or the exception? For adjustable comfort in the mattress business you have to think about Sleep Number as the primary because nobody has really tried to step up and take it away from them. Okay, a few have tried, but with very small budgets or inferior products or launches that didn’t fire on all cylinders.  Consider the memory foam world. Tempur-Pedic is the first group that comes to mind of course, but to my knowledge they never tried to own “memory foam”, but instead used the term “Tempur Material” or their version of memory foam. My research experience says from a consumer perspective it is all pretty much the same stuff; nobody owns it. Tempur-Pedic has spent hundreds of millions of dollars driving that platform and they certainly have top of mind awareness and some preference, but I wouldn’t say they own it. iComfort cracked the seal on that one and Tempur-Pedic has been attacked with generic versions of memory foam products from everywhere imaginable. So much so that the entire category is now no different than the bottom end of the innerspring side of things. Burn it as low as you can and let price be the king.

The Race To The Bottom
The Race To The Bottom

Other than those two, has anyone even earned the right in our world to have an exclusive on a product or comfort technology? I don’t even know what that would look like, and in a world where media is so diversified and messages are hitting consumers from every angle possible, I think it would be tough. 22 Immutable Laws was written back in 1994 which is over 20 years ago. This may have been true back then but as I sit here writing this, there are few if any products that I can think of that have an outright exclusive on anything!

Maybe today you have to be happy to be dominate instead of exclusive. If it were up to me, I would be happy to know that what we were doing for the consumer was COMPELLING. Unless of course you are Sleep Number. Well played adjustable comfort people.

Am I wrong. Have I crossed a line to object to one of the sacred 22 Immutable Laws? Let me know in the comments section.

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