If you’re a small retail brand, competing in a crowded commodity market is an uphill battle.

But you shouldn’t be discouraged. Here is a short list of what to think about first.

  1. Take advantage of your agility as a small company. Size can often be an Achilles’ heel for larger companies. They can’t move as quickly as smaller, nimble companies; internal communication and interdepartmental collaboration can be more challenging. Within a smaller organization, teams should be able to act more quickly. Using a robust mobile data collection tool to gather data and insights, a small company can adapt immediately to unexpected change —as quickly as real-time data comes in.
  1. Know your customers as well as you know yourself and your competitors. Understand where they shop and why they shop there. To better understand your target audience, get away from your desk and go meet your customers in their communities. Share valuable product information and understand their purchase decisions during the process. Consider your brand’s relationship with millennials; they are responsible for a lot of current market change. Larger companies may have more manpower and dollars to put behind consumer research, but they are likely buying access to proprietary research channels or paying a third party to run focus groups. Nothing is more valuable than face-to-face dialogue.
  1. Dedicate yourself to a clear and consistent value proposition. Share your value proposition with customers in person and vis-à-vis product packaging. Packing is just as important as being face-to-face with your customers. Explain why they should buy from you instead of a larger brand. Some customers prefer to buy from small or local businesses. Give them a reason to believe in your mission, goals and product. A loyal customer base, no matter how big, is necessary to differentiate your products in a marketplace saturated by bigger brands that are selling similar products for less.
  1. Sometimes differentiating yourself means stepping outside your comfort zone. Rosa Brothers Milk Company, a dairy farm that sold cow’s milk to large processors, is a great example of a small brand that was struggling in a crowded market of dairy farmers. Rosa Brothers began distributing their milk in glass bottles, a symbol of quality in the market, which substantiated their higher price point for consumers. Sometimes it takes reaching beyond your company’s core competency and getting creative to compete against the bigger guys.

For small companies, competing with large brand names takes creativity, determination and a motivated group of people. Following the tips we have outlined is the first step. Good luck!

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