One thing is for sure, there is NEVER a shortage of competition in business. No matter the industry, there are always copycats. I mean you know what they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery, well not in business. Imitation in business is threatening. A product or service you’ve spent years making, you finally bring it to market, only to see within months a plethora of brands have an eerily similar design. There is one thing though that will leave you immune to these attempts at carving away your market share… Marketing.  

I was simply scrolling through r/marketing, just to get the daily tea of the Marketing industry, when I stumbled upon a brand who absolutely HANDLED their competitor’s attempt at ripping off their product. And you know me I had to dive headfirst into why and HOW this company successfully shooed away the competition. (If you ever see an account under the name breakfasttaco68, that may or may not be me.)  We all know Amazon, some more than others (I think I have 6 packages outside my door right now). Amazon is a behemoth. Economies of scale is their bread and butter.

Anything and everything you want, they’re able to give to you at a much cheaper price than the competition. And in some cases Amazon sells dupe products under their generic Amazon Basics brand, which mirror other popular brand name products. Most of the time Amazon is left unbothered and able to sell their cheaper options to the masses, but not when they stepped on the toes of Peak Design. Amazon Basics released a camera bag called the “Amazon Basics Everyday Sling”. And the team over at Peak Design noticed an uncanny resemblance between their incredibly popular Everyday Sling and the Amazon Basics Bag. (See for yourself below.)
Yeah if I was shown this picture I would have assumed these are undoubtedly made by the same company. The shape, the zippers, the handle, are all identical. This posed a unique opportunity, they could immediately pursue legal action. But up against someone the size of Amazon, the cost of a lawsuit would run the smaller Peak Design, into the ground (or at least close to it).

So instead they decided to use this infringement on their product as a Marketing campaign. And ohhh did they crush it. Establishing a common enemy is the name of the game here. Peak Design posted a YouTube video to their 97,000 subscribers, and it went viral. Realizing it was the perfect opportunity to highlight the USP of their product, they sarcastically compared the cheaply-made Amazon Basics bag and their Everyday Sling. I know what you’re thinking, sarcasm, in Marketing?!

Hear me out…The use of humor in Marketing shortens the pathway to connection with the consumer AND increases brand retention. It’s not a coincidence that during the Super Bowl (the biggest Marketing event in the world) brands use their funniest ads. This use of sarcasm allowed Peak Design to really get off their chest what they wanted to say without the bluntness of being confrontational, making the message more easily received by the audience. They’re able to mock Amazon without the distaste of seeming resentful, making themselves more likeable as a brand.
Peak Design took a big risk. They were giving the Amazon Basics bag a platform by highlighting it in their video, but the risk paid off. Proudly made of recycled materials, carbon neutral, and made by fairly paid employees, Peak Design could simply say that in their video, but then you would feel like you’re being sold to. Instead they sarcastically call all of those features “needless”, urging the consumer to really buy the Amazon Basics bag which isn’t sustainably sourced and is cheaply-made.

This sarcastic approach to crushing their competition enabled them to show the stark contrast in quality between the products, while also being able to SELL to their audience without them even realizing.  Positioning Amazon as a common enemy was huge for building rapport with their customers. This development of a common enemy can help you create a tribe of people who are together to fight against your competition. It’s one of the best ways to build an army of a following for your brand. And if you don’t believe that it’s effective, let’s see the results. Loyal customers jumped in to defend Peak Design.

After the YouTube video started gaining traction, Amazon coincidentally renamed their product to the “Amazon Basics Camera Bag”, ditching the everyday sling name. Shortly after that, negative reviews flooded Amazon’s product, prompting them to remove the ability to buy the product.
Their customers fought the good fight, defending Peak Design in the reviews. Now this is proof of an ARMY of a following in effect.
The cherry on top? Peak Design ends the video with a statement: “Whichever one you buy, you’ll get exactly what you paid for.” CHECK. MATE. Now this is what we call taking matters into your own hand and winning.
Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
Level up your marketing game

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