What does it mean to be different today?
Differentiation used to be about standing out, about creating a product that is significantly different and there are no other products like it. Just to be noticed and valued.
But is seems like today, there is more focus on illusory differentiation driven by more choices, brand extensions, improved ingredients, more washing power, higher performance....you name it...supermarkets shelves groan under those "different products" that are all the same and use the same tactics to attract users.
“Today we have more of everything. More brands. More products. More choices. But it all just feels like more of the same. A great big blur of similarity. And most companies are stuck on a competitive treadmill, competing like crazy trying to keep up with each other. But this only makes them just like everyone else.” (Youngme Moon)
What is the solution? Maybe look at the differentiation from different perspective. Start with quitting adjectives. Seeing "differentiation as deviance, permutation, commitment to unprecedented and letting go."
It's getting back to basics, putting the right meaning into the word different and creating great products, no one else does and connecting consumers in the meaningful way instead of creating more clutter. Challenging the ways we see competition. It is good to know what they do but they shouldn't necessary be the point of reference. Look outside, get inspired by different categories and think from time to time that your brand is not saint...
A good start is to read this book...