Emerging Forms of Competitive Advantage: Implications for Agricultural Producers

Michael J. Barone, Thomas E. DeCarlo
March 2003  [03-MRP 5]

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Suggested citation:

Barone, M.J. and T.E. DeCarlo. 2003. "Emerging Forms of Competitive Advantage: Implications for Agricultural Producers." MATRIC research paper 03-MRP 5. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Traditional recommendations for building sustainable competitive advantages revolve around differentiating a product from the competition along attributes that are important and relevant to customers. However, strategic approaches based on such notions do not represent viable options for companies competing in commodity markets characterized by a lack of physical product differentiation. The objective of this paper is to conduct a literature review with the aim of identifying alternative approaches to creating competitive advantage that can be used even under conditions in which no differences in actual quality exist across products. This review of the literature uncovered three non-traditional strategies that provide a basis for perceptually differentiating products in the face of physical homogeneity. Agricultural producers operating in parity markets should consider these recommendations when developing strategies aimed at creating the competitive advantages that drive sales performance in the marketplace.

Keywords: agricultural producers, commodity markets, competitive advantage, marketing, product differentiation.