Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Examples & Definition

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

A unique selling proposition is an advertising concept developed in 1961 and is still used today. In this lesson, you'll learn what it is and be provided some examples. A short quiz follows the lesson.


Unique selling proposition (USP) is a concept developed by advertising executive Rosser Reeves in his 1961 book entitled Reality in Advertising. Reeves argued that a unique selling proposition consists of three elements:

  1. Each advertising message should make a proposition to potential customers that they will get a specific benefit if they purchase this specific product.
  2. The proposition must by unique because it either is not offered, or cannot be offered, by your competition.
  3. The proposition must be persuasive enough to cause a significant amount of consumers to purchase the product.

In simple terms, USP is a method of persuading potential customers that your product offers a specific and unique benefit they cannot otherwise obtain.


Perhaps the easiest industry that is able to capitalize upon unique selling propositions is the sports industry. A classic example of an athlete who is a brand unto himself is Michael Jordan. His play added unique value to the Chicago Bulls, and he was able to leverage fan adoration into an endorsement empire ranging from basketball shoes to male undergarments.

Another example is the Olympics. The event is very unique for both athletes and spectators. It provides an experience for both groups that they really cannot achieve anywhere else.

Bespoke English shotgun gunsmiths can utilize USP when targeting wealthy sportsmen. These shotguns are custom built and tailored by hand for each specific sportsman, much like a custom tailored suit

Exotic sports or luxury cars (like a Bentley, a Lamborghini and a Roll Royce) offer a cache that is not easily replicated by competitors.

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