Yogurt, Differentiation, and Personal Branding? Yes!

Recently, I was at the grocery store doing some quick shopping. Just had to pick up a handful of items that were needed at home.  As a part my interest in committing to a healthy diet, I had yogurt on the list of things to buy. 

When I got to the the part of the big, refrigerated section of the store, I quickly scanned for yogurt.  As I made my way to the yogurt selection, I looked for my favorite type: Greek yogurt.  Higher in protein yet it still tastes really good. If you like yogurt and haven’t tried this type, I recommend that you give it a shot.

Anyway, as I searched for the particular brand that I like, I immediate realized that there was a massive array of choices available to customers. First, there was what we might call traditional yogurt. That of course came in a variety of flavors, and both regular and nonfat versions. Of course there were different companies marketing these products as well.  Then, I saw Greek yogurt. Again, there were different flavors and versions of this yogurt. Quite a few options already!

But, wait, that’s not the end of it. As I looked to the right, I saw yogurt labeled as “Mediterranean”, or some abbreviation thereof. Below that, was a line of yogurt called “Swiss” yogurt. Seriously? Oh, there’s more. Next to that, I noticed “Icelandic” yogurt. Wow, how exotic that sounds. Much of Europe seems to be covered in this one store! Of course, we can’t forget the “Australian” yogurt that was adjacent on the shelf.

My first thought was “Come ON! Why do we need yogurt with all these different names! Whatever happened to good old fashioned yogurt?”

Then, I realized that it’s all about differentiation. Presumably, there has been some market research done to project the viability of these products before they were launched.  If they just marketed plain old yogurt, how would that be different from anything that has been offered at stores for years? In this case, the differentiated products filled some type of need in the marketplace.

Clearly, there must be people who are inclined to purchase the “Icelandic” yogurt, for example. Maybe they like that specific taste, maybe they like the ingredients, perhaps the nutritional profile works for them. Or, maybe they were just taken in by the packaging and the Icelandic labeling? Who knows. But as opposed to a new regular yogurt product, selling Icelandic yogurt offers consumers something differentiated that at least gives them a chance to create a foothold.  Same applies to those other permutations – like Swiss, Australian, etc.

Where am I going with this? Well, connecting the dots:

  1. It’s clear that differentiation can help new products stand out in a competitive, established market with many sellers vying for available dollars
  2. When we try to manage our careers and sell our experience and skills to employers, aren’t we effectively marketing ourselves as products?
  3. In order to market ourselves successfully and stand out in a competitive landscape, isn’t it important to differentiate ourselves?

In a market full of competitive, talented people, it’s important to stand out above the crowd to get the job you want. Or, to get the business you want, contract you want, graduate school admission you want, and so on.  If we just blend in with the crowd, and have no real point of differentiation for ourselves, why hire us? However, if one can find their own unique story and value proposition, we can create our own niche or personal brand that allows us to stand out from the crowd.

Think back to the yogurt. Be like everyone else, average, and it will take a person only so far. Try to differentiate and stand out in some way, and you might find a place at the table!

Who knew a trip to the grocery store could get a person thinking about career wisdom? :)


    • Squirrelers says

      Invest it Wisely – I completely agree with you! One must be adaptable, flexible, and ready to continue learning and growing, in today’s world. Might be much faster in the future for all we know, too.

    • says

      Haha, very true Invest It Wisely! The yogurt analogy was funny, but effective. I buy the store brand greek yogurt, it’s cheaper and tastes the same :) Although, I know that isn’t the objective of this post–I thought I’d add it.

  1. says

    Going back to the part about the yogurt, it directly answers the question that some people have of why stores have gotten so much bigger over the years? A grocery store that was perfectly sized in the 1970’s would be way too small these days to be useful in most cities and suburbs. Think about the yogurt section back then compared to what you just described, and multiply that out by just about every type of item. We demand more choices, but that results in needing more of everything else that supports that system.

    • Squirrelers says

      Money Beagle – true, maybe it’s like a grocery store bureacracy…each product is it’s own special interest group:)

  2. says

    Career – and blogging – wisdom! Figure out where you can offer something different from the rest of the pack (working on it still with the second part). Good stuff. I hope you review the Icelandic Yogurt here soon!

    • Squirrelers says

      PKamp3 – Yeah, maybe that would make an intersesting post of some type…comparing all the types of so-called international yogurt varieties, judgeing on a cost/taste/value basis! Actually, within Greek yogurt, I’ve seen big variation. One brand really good, one pretty good, another not very good.

  3. says

    Have you tried Kefir? Goes great in smoothies and full of wonderful probiotics!

    Anyway, you are so right about needing to have that something that makes you stand out (in a good way). Where I work, there is a guy that is less than pleasant to work with, and everyone knows it. However, his system knowledge is unparalleled, so people live with it.

    • Squirrelers says

      Kris – yes, in fact, I have tried Kefir! I’ve put it in smoothies before. I thought I was one of the few that did that (I did in the past anyway, not lately), but it looks like you’ve done that too. Also, to your last two sentences about that guy, that’s a great point you make. When someone is truly good at what they do, people will put up with a lot of nonsense. When people are average, it helps a lot to be liked! Again, differentiaion in a different way :)

    • says

      I work with a girl who makes her own yogurt at home which is apparently very similar to Kefir. She has promised some German girls I work with to give them some of the spore/fungus/whatever you use to make it. Apparently she had to buy that in Italy (you can keep the fungus forever, it keeps growing) but I’m sure you could buy it at some health food place in the U.S…

      • Squirrelers says

        Kellen – I’ve had Kefir, it can be pretty decent. I’ve used in smoothies, as well as a salad dressing before (mixed with balsamic vinegar, believe it or not. Haven’t had it in quite a while though.

  4. says

    This is actually a very motivating post! Every employer looks for this differentiating factor when assessing an employee.

    Something to think about the next time you do your performance review!

  5. says

    Differentiation or branding is important in every market! Why should you should buy one product or service or another. Price has some effect, but value I think trumps price.

    • Squirrelers says

      krantcents – ultimately, people can only go so far on price. When you see people selling $100 hamburgers, it goes to show that there’s value to – well, value. It can help differentiate.

    • Squirrelers says

      Robert – true, many people just want to stand out in some way…or perceive that they do, anyway. Branding is so interesting.

  6. says

    Might there be a possibility that these yoghurts, whether Icelandic or Australian or Elbonian, might have been come from the same manufacturer… in Wisconsin? :-)

    Good analogy on branding in the career/business space, though.

  7. says

    Did they have Russian yogurt? I’d buy it! lol
    Differentiation that what makes the world interesting and competitve. It promotes creativity. It is interesting, however, that a yogurt can create such a specific flow of thoughts. :) I like how life throws at us little details and things that trigger a thought provoking process.

    • Squirrelers says

      Aloysa – I know, it’s kind of interesting how thoughts can come to our minds. I never thought looking at the yogurt section would get me thinking about personal branding and differentiation, but there’s a first time for everything!

  8. Roxie Wall says

    We demand more choices, but that results in needing more of everything else that supports that system. I hope you review the Icelandic Yogurt here soon! A grocery store that was perfectly sized in the 1970?s would be way too small these days to be useful in most cities and suburbs. I buy the store brand greek yogurt, it’s cheaper and tastes the same Although, I know that isn’t the objective of this post–I thought I’d add it.

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