Points of Parity vs Points of Difference

Although they sound very similar, a business’ points of parity and points of difference are distinct, and you’ll want to identify them both. Each one is related to brand positioning, but only one separates a business from the competition.

What Does Points of Parity and Points of Difference Mean?

When you want to position your brand two of the first thing you need to define are points of parity and points of difference. Let’s start by looking at the basic concepts behind these two marketing terms. 

Points of parity (POP) are essentially industry standards that make a business legitimate in their field. It’s the qualities that all businesses have in order to be competitive and on par with one another. In other words, points of parity are industry-specific similarities that are shared among many businesses. 

Points of parity are the bare minimum for competitive businesses. If you want to be competitive, your company needs to have all the points of parity covered. 

Points of difference, also known as points of differentiation or POD, is what you need to determine once the points of parity have been covered. These are the things that are truly unique to your business and that give you a competitive edge. When you are creating marketing pieces, campaigns and landing pages the points of difference are what you want to highlight in your messaging.

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Balancing Points of Parity and Points of Difference

For the most effective marketing, businesses have to convey both points of parity and points of difference. POP tells your target market your product or service meets their basic needs. POD tells consumers why your product or service is the best option over competitors that also have the essentials covered. 

Points of parity should be mentioned, but your points of difference should be the core message. Consumers just need to know you can meet the points of parity that they are familiar with. If that seems like all your company has to offer, then there’s no reason for the consumer to choose you over the competition. 

To win market share, you must have clear points of difference. POD tells consumers that you are bringing something different to the table. When you are new to an established marketplace getting consumers to make a switch from their regular brand is easier if you can show you offer something the competition doesn’t have. The same holds true in markets that have a very diverse customer base with different needs.

Points of Parity Examples

To better illustrate points of parity we’ve provided a few examples based on average consumer needs for a common service and product. 

Car Rental 

Most of today’s consumers look for the following points of parity when they’re comparing car rental companies:

  • Insurance options, even if they won’t add a policy to the rental.
  • Unlimited miles so as to avoid unexpected charges.
  • Good selection of vehicles from cheap compacts to large trucks. 
  • Nearby pickup and drop-offs locations so they don’t have to go out of their way.

Virtually all nationwide car rental companies cover all four of these points of parity. They are worth mentioning, but you wouldn’t want to base a slogan or marketing campaign on them.

Toilet Paper

Everyone has toilet paper in their home. It’s a basic necessity with basic points of parity like:

  • It needs to be made of a durable softwood fiber paper that won’t tear.
  • The tube should fit standard toilet paper holders.
  • It has to be flushable so it won’t clog the toilet.

Can you imagine a toilet paper manufacturer advertising that their product is made with a standard size tube? As we’ll see below, the tube can be a point of difference, but fitting holders isn’t the differentiator.

 

Points of Difference Examples

This marketing concept is the bread and butter for a business. The examples below help to differentiate between points of parity and POD so that finding your own differentiating factors is easier. 

Dollar Rental is in a very competitive industry that requires going beyond parity. The car rental company has used points of difference that are focused on savings. They even hired financial guru Dave Ramsey as a spokesperson to signify their rentals are financially sensible. Their rewards programs are another point of differentiation, especially for corporate customers. In addition to getting 15% off by joining the email list, you can get quadruple American Airlines points by renting a compact car for 3+ days. 

Angel Soft toilet paper recently found a great differentiator. They’ve leveraged an overlooked part of the toilet paper roll – the tube. Angel Soft has added a lavender fragrance to their toilet paper tubes. Now you don’t need potpourri because your toilet paper is pulling double duty. This is a big differentiator that comes from Angel Soft’s understanding of complementary products that are used in the bathroom. 

The examples above exemplify two businesses that have a firm grasp on the points of parity for their industry, which has allowed them to effectively identify points of difference that set them apart. 

 

If you’re having difficulty grabbing more of the market share you may want to take a look at your brand positioning and adjust slogans and messaging to have a stronger POD slant. You can use Mixpanel to A/B test POP vs POD messaging to know exactly how much of a difference it makes.

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