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What is Undifferentiated Marketing?

John Lister
John Lister

Undifferentiated marketing is a marketing strategy that works as if all consumers have similar tastes and motivations. It is sometimes known as mass marketing. Most marketing falls into three main categories. Undifferentiated advertising treats all consumers the same way. Differentiated advertising involves producing different marketing for specific market segments. Concentrated marketing focuses the entire marketing on only one market segment.

Some of the differences among these types of marketing are disputable. In some definitions, differentiated marketing involves the same product, but marketed in different ways to different market segments. In other definitions, it can cover a company that develops variations on a product to cover these different segments. One example would be a drinks company that developed a low-calorie version of its product to appeal to the health market.

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Businessman giving a thumbs-up

The main benefit of undifferentiated marketing is that it does not require as much focus and research to identify the tastes of individual market sections. It can also mean the company can be confident that it will not miss out any potential consumers in its marketing. This strategy makes sure marketing reaches people who do not fall into the supposed target market but would still be interested in buying.

Undifferentiated marketing can also be suitable for a product or service that is intended to be profitable based on quantity of sales rather than high mark-ups or a high price. This often applies to products that meet common needs such as food, clothing or transport. If carried out successfully, undifferentiated marketing can lead to a product being so well-established that it dominates a market and even becomes synonymous with that market.

The main drawbacks of undifferentiated marketing are that it can lose focus and be wasteful. By keeping a marketing message very general, it may be harder to resonate with customers. The product may appear more generic and have fewer clear advantages over rivals in the same market.

Unless a product fulfills very general needs, undifferentiated marketing can also mean a lot of money and effort goes towards reaching an audience with little or no interest in the product. One example would be an airline that only sold one class of ticket and marketed itself based on flights to resort destinations. This would likely be unsuccessful to business flyers who had different needs to vacation travelers. It would also fail to appeal to flyers who wanted a "no-frills" service where low prices was the key.

Discussion Comments


@Charred - I don’t know much about a marketing plan—but I think that in marketing branding has to be more important than anything else, especially in today’s business climate where everyone is online. It’s not so much differentiating the market which should be your primary concern, it should be differentiating yourself.

When I first started establishing my service business (software development) I stopped and asked myself what made me different from the average Joe Programmer. I had skill, but I wasn’t Bill Gates. I made a list of things that people who had worked with me had said about me and used these testimonies as attributes that set me apart from the competition.

I promoted these attributes in my advertising campaigns, and they helped to secure a lot of business from the start. Believe me, branding is everything.


@NathanG - I used a marketing plan when I started my small business, and it helped me reach my sales goals much sooner than I expected. In a marketing plan you basically define your product and service as well as what your current market is for your product, describing geographical and target markets in detail.

I also defined objectives based on my current understanding of the market environment, with clear-cut sales goals. In addition I had a “threats and opportunities” section in the marketing plan where I wrote down potential obstacles to achieving sales objectives, as well as opportunities I had identified from market research.

The result was that I had a leg up on the competition, and wasn't caught by surprise by some of the market forces that tripped up other businesses in my sector. I believe that a marketing plan will better position any business for success, enabling them to make the most of any opportunity while avoiding potential pitfalls.


Unless you’re a big corporation selling a product with mass appeal, I don’t see any benefit to so-called undifferentiated marketing strategy. I hear the term mass marketing and I think “junk mail”—headed for the waste bin.

If you’re a small business owner you have to choose targeted marketing approaches; you can’t afford to waste your marketing dollars on unqualified prospects.

Money is not an problems these days, with affordable radio and cable television spots, and of course Internet marketing campaigns making it possible for anyone to reach their target market with a laser-like focus while keeping an eye on costs.

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