I first learned about this concept of “market sophistication” from this video by Vishen Lakhiani of Mind Valley.
The concept is super interesting so I watched it twice, once through and then a second time to take notes.
Later, when I was reading more about copywriting, I realized the idea had come from the book Breakthrough Advertising by legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz.
Here’s my summary of the concept with some examples:
The Big Idea: You sell differently based on competition level and the degree of public sophistication about your product and market
There are five levels of market sophistication:
Level 1: Product Is Completely New
What to do: Be direct. ‘This is what we do.’
Eg:”Now Lose Ugly Fat” “Shave Yourself” “Learn to Meditate”
Level 2: Product Relatively New W/ Some Competition
What to do: Outbid Competition with features. Claim is in Headline, Feature is in Subhead
Eg: “Lose up to 47 Lbs in 4 weeks or get $40 back” “Chrysler 300: Now with 300 Horsepower” “So safe you can shave your baby”
Level 3 – Market Is Jaded With Ads But Still Has Some Unmet Needs
What to do: Present new “Feature” or shift emphasis to HOW product works.
Eg: “First Wonder Drug for Losing Weight” “Deep Meditation in minutes using patented sound technology” “Some day all beer cans will open this easy”
Level 4: Counter Competitors’ 3rd Stage By Being Faster, Cheaper, More Convenient
What to do: Pile on the features
Eg: “Gillette ultimate razor” “10 reasons to work with us”
Level 5: Market Is Jaded
What to do: Appeal to emotions: pictures, cartoons, funny, nostalgia,etc
Eg: “I’d walk a mile for a Camel”, Marlboro man, ipod ad with hot woman in silhouette
One example of one product through the stages of market sophistication:
Level 1: “Our cigarettes are filtered”
Level 2: “Our filter cigarettes taste good”
Level 3: “Our cigarettes are filtered using a new patented dyna-blade filter that not only makes cigarettes not put toxins in your body, but also clear your car”
Level 4: “Our cigarettes are double filtered for double the pleasure”
Level 5: “Tastes good like a cigarette should”
(Then introduce a new feature, create a new market for that and start the whole process over again!)
By Will Ward