A Cost Leadership Strategy is based on the concept that you can produce and market a good quality product or service at a lower cost than your competitors. These low costs should translate to profit margins that are higher than the industry average. Some of the conditions that should exist to support a cost leadership strategy include an on-going availability of operating capital, good process engineering skills, close management of labor, products designed for ease of manufacturing and low cost distribution. A Differentiation Strategy is one of creating a product or service that is perceived as being unique "throughout the industry". The emphasis can be on brand image, proprietary technology, special features, superior service, a strong distributor network or other aspects that might be specific to your industry. This uniqueness should also translate to profit margins that are higher than the industry average. In addition, some of the conditions that should exist to support a differentiation strategy include strong marketing abilities, effective product engineering, creative personnel, the ability to perform basic research and a good reputation. A Focus Strategy may be the most sophisticated of the generic strategies, in that it is a more 'intense' form of either the cost leadership or differentiation strategy. It is designed to address a "focused" segment of the marketplace, product form or cost management process and is usually employed when it isn't appropriate to attempt an 'across the board' application of cost leadership or differentiation. It is based on the concept of serving a particular target in such an exceptional manner, those others cannot compete. Usually this means addressing a substantially smaller market segment than others in the industry, but because of minimal competition, profit margins can be very high.
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