The undifferentiated approach occurs when the marketer ignores the apparent differences that exist within the market and uses a marketing strategy that is intended to appeal to as many people as possible. In essence, the market is viewed as a homogeneous aggregate. Admittedly, this assumption is risky, and there is always the chance that it will appeal to no one, or that the amount of waste in resources will be greater than the total gain in sales.
For certain types of widely consumed items (e.g. gasoline, soft drinks, white bread), the undifferentiated market approach makes the most sense. One example was the campaign in which Dr. Pepper employed a catchy general-appeal slogan, "Be A PEPPER!", that really said nothing specific about the product, yet spoke to a wide range of consumers. Often, this type of general appeal is supported by positive, emotional settings, and a great many reinforcers at the point-of-purchase. Walk through any supermarket and you will observe hundreds of food products that are perceived as nearly identical by the consumer and are treated as such by the producer—especially generic items.
Identifying products that have a universal appeal is only one of many criteria to be met if an undifferentiated approach is to work. The number of consumers exhibiting a need for the identified product must be large enough to generate satisfactory profits. A product such as milk would probably have universal appeal and a large market; something like a set of dentures might not. However, adequate market size is not an absolute amount and must be evaluated for each product.
Two other considerations are important: the per unit profit margin and the amount of competition. Bread has a very low profit margin and many competitors, thus requiring a very large customer base. A product such as men's jockey shorts delivers a high profit but has few competitors.
Success with an undifferentiated market approach is also contingent on the abilities of the marketer to correctly identify potential customers and design an effective and competitive strategy. Since the values, attitudes, and behaviors of people are constantly changing, it is crucial to monitor these changes. Introduce numerous cultural differences, and an extremely complex situation emerges. There is also the possibility that an appeal that is pleasing to a great diversity of people may not then be strong or clear enough to be truly effective with any of these people. Finally, the competitive situation might also promote an undifferentiated strategy. All would agree that Campbell's dominates the canned soup industry, and that there is little reason for them to engage in much differentiation. Clearly, for companies that have a very large share of the market undifferentiated IT market coverage makes sense. For a company with small market share, it might be disastrous.3