Commodity-Based Selling Could be Sinking Your Sales and Marketing Initiatives, and What to Do About It

Commodity is a very traditional concept of selling goods. However, we cannot deny the fact that historically, it has been an effective method for industries where competition was limited. But today, the digital age has made it easy for customers to compare price options with a few simple taps on their mobile phones. Some common examples include highly price-sensitive markets like airline tickets and construction materials, where differentiation is mainly based on price and benefits. In such markets, standing out is tough and challenging.

A well-known author, Anthony Iannarino, refers to this situation as: “You are different in the same way as everyone else.” He further adds, “Most salespeople and sales organizations don’t recognize they are different in the same way as their competition.” Market adaptive underpricing and cost-plus pricing are not the techniques that work when the product one is selling is, in fact, a commodity.

Understanding Consumer Psychology

Customers are interested in getting affordable and low-risk offers. In many cases, customers are comfortable paying a higher price for a product if it has greater benefits as compared to the ones offered by the competitors. However, it’s important to place the right pricing tags on the product because a flawed pricing strategy can negatively impact the brand equity.

How to Sell Value Instead of Commodities

According to the Marxian Concept of Commodities, a commodity is any goods or services that can be bought or sold. It includes two aspects: Its usefulness and how much people are willing to spend on it, also known as the exchange value. When you go deep into the product you’re selling, you identify the root cause of the customer’s needs and journey cycle and what the product does to make their lives better. In other words, are you simply selling a product, or are you conveying how the product can improve their lives? In short, are you providing value?

To change your commodity-based selling to a value-driven proposition, consider the following approaches:

  1. Focus on the Personalized Benefits: Highlight the benefits and solutions your product or service provides. For example, when selling to a specific buyer persona, understand what benefits they are looking for. Is it effectiveness, functionality or something else? This requires a deep understanding of the value proposition and competitive advantages of your product or service.
  2. Distribute Your Brand Using USP: Identify and promote your unique selling proposition. Highlight what sets your product apart from similar commodities in the market and how it can fulfill your customer’s needs better than other offerings.
  3. Educate Customers: Educate your customers on how your product or service can solve their problems. This can be done through informative content or tutorials that talk about the applications and benefits of your products or services.


Any brand can transition from selling commodities to offering genuine value. To achieve this, it might require you to step back and think about the product at hand and what benefits you can leverage using that product or service. Then, using the knowledge, you can create marketing strategies, adjust product offerings and design appealing promotions for customer engagement.