Positioning is an essential marketing element for consumer products and B2B (Business to Business). Positioning is the unique way in which a brand adds value to its customers. Where is a brand in the hearts and minds of customers? These associations that consumers have with a brand reflect their positioning.
The topic of this week’s blog explores positioning as a marketing strategy and how it adds value to other marketing strategies. Here are five common positioning strategies are also discussed.
What Is Positioning?
Businesses use positioning to create an image of a brand’s product or service in an intended customer’s mind. Positioning determines how the brand’s offering is unique; how it offers a distinct advantage to customers. Companies use marketing to communicate their market position to customers and influence their perception of branded products or services. Marketing determines the brand identity and influences consumers’ perception of their work in the market compared to competitors’ alternatives.
Before a company determines its position in the market, a company must decide which segment of the market they want to target. This market segment should be profitable: either there are many customers or a niche in the market that offers opportunities due to a lack of competition. This is where positioning comes into play. A company has to decide how to make its brand as attractive as possible to that group of customers it wants to target. This target market is determined by demographics such as gender, location, age, and criteria based on their consuming behavior.
A unique selling proposition
Effective positioning of a product or service gives it a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). A USP is an attractive feature or hallmark of a brand that distinguishes it from comparable alternatives. In a modern market crowded with so many choices with similar advantages, you want your brand to stand out from the crowd. It will be more memorable and can have a competitive edge over the alternatives. Your USP is your unique advantage in enticing customers to buy your brand over another. Brands should communicate this USP to their target audience. This is where positioning comes in.
McDonald’s is a notable example of using a USP to help position its brand. They are the world’s best-known fast food brand and rival hundreds of other fast food outlets. They don’t try to position themselves as the fastest, the cheapest, or the best. Instead, their USP is that they are a family-owned restaurant. The dishes from the children’s menu, the free toy with a children’s meal, the play areas.
A USP statement and positioning is similar. The main difference is that a USP is product or service-centered and focuses on what sets your product or service apart from the competition. After the USP, a company creates its positioning statement, focusing on the main benefit of the product services for its target market. Companies must ask themselves: “How do I want our brand to be seen?”
A positioning statement should not exceed one paragraph and should address the following:
First, the positioning statement begins by describing the target market and their specific needs or goals. Market research helps companies better understand their market and their customers more intimately.
Determine which category your product or service belongs to and how it meets consumers’ needs. Customers need a point of reference to provide context for evaluating a brand’s offering.
What distinguishes your product or service from the alternatives? A point of differentiation is best, indicating your difference from the customer’s point of view. How will your differentiator help solve the customer’s problem or achieve their goals?
Explain why consumers in your target market should believe your brand’s claims. Consumers need to see your ranking’s credibility, so provide evidence to justify your brand’s affirmation in your order. Don’t just say you’re the fastest or the best quality; affirm HOW you are.
Determining a Positioning Strategy
A successful positioning strategy relies on an in-depth understanding of the market in which you want to compete. Identify how your company differs from competitors and the conditions and opportunities in the market. A big mistake many companies make is they assume that positioning is just a marketing strategy. This should be one of the foundations of business strategy. After all, it is impossible to position a product as a high-quality marketing offering if the product itself cannot substantiate those claims.
Customers can recognize a clear positioning strategy – they know if a brand competes on price or quality. Positioning should be a cohesive effort between business strategy and sales and marketing tactics. It is much more than just a communication strategy. This is the only way that the product or service will meet the customer’s expectations and positioning promises. Organizations need to define their positioning in the value chain clearly. Otherwise, communication loses focus and can create confusion.
There are five main strategies that companies can base their positioning.
1. Positioning according to the characteristics of the product
Using product attributes or benefits as a positioning strategy, your brand is associated with a particular point beneficial to customers. For example, in the automotive industry, Toyota’s position in the marketplace is reliability, Porsche’s work is performance, and Volvo’s work is safety. Brands systematically communicate the unique advantage or feature of the product.
2. Positioning based on price
Positioning your products or services according to price means associating your brand with competitive prices. Usually, a brand with a pricing positioning strategy wants to be the cheapest, one of the most affordable in the market, and the value becomes their position. For example, supermarket chains often have a private label with very low-priced products in many product categories. Their lower logistics and distribution costs allow them to price their products at a lower price than their competitors, so price-sensitive buyers will often buy them without knowing the price, knowing that it is often the cheapest option.
Brands can also position themselves based on price if they find a market gap at a specific price. The only option in a certain price range becomes your position in the market. Often, brands expand their product lines to fill a gap in the market.
3. Positioning based on quality or luxury
Often, the price and the quality of a product align, certainly in the consumer’s mind, as the high price is often associated with high quality. However, positioning a work based on high quality or “luxury” is different from setting it based on merit. Often these brands don’t communicate their price, but instead, high quality or prestige is the focal point of the communication to create a desire so that customers want the product regardless of the cost.
4. Positioning according to the use or application of the product
Associating your product with a particular use is another way of positioning your brand in the market. Meal replacement supplements, for example, can be helpful for anyone who doesn’t have time or wants a quick, easy meal. There are also meal replacements specially designed for people who wish to gym performance, so high in calories and added vitamins and minerals. Other meal replacements are meant for dieters, so they’re low in calories and wouldn’t provide a lot of energy for someone’s workout.
Often the older meal replacements target men, and the low-calorie diet option targets, women. Both are meal replacements, but different placement.
5. Competitive positioning
Competition-based positioning aims to use competition as a benchmark for differentiation. Brands emphasize an essential difference that their product/service offerings offer in their marketing to make it appear favorable and unique compared to other options on the market. The product or services become unique.
Brands can also use the competition as a benchmark to follow a similar strategy. Suppose a particular brand has a large market share. In that case, its positioning strategy should appeal to many customers, so you try to convert some of their customers by offering a similar product with similar benefits for the same price.
Positioning perceptual cards
Companies can create a perceptual map of the dominant brands’ positioning in a market to identify gaps and opportunities.