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Product Positioning

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“Product Positioning refers to a brand’s objective (functional) attributes in relation to other brands. It is a characteristic of the physical product and its functional features”.

Product positioning means “relating a product to the market.” In simple words, group of customers with common characteristics are first identified. It also involves analysis of product strengths and weaknesses and competitor’s ability to meet customer needs. 

Product positioning is the creation of a clear image in the minds of consumers within the targeted segment about the nature of the product and the benefits to be gained from purchasing the product. Positioning is the compliment of segmentation.

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Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Product Positioning 2. Definition of Product Positioning 3. Concept 4. Basis 5. Significance 6. Components 7. Steps 8. Strategies 9. Approaches 10. Possibilities 11. Errors 12. Requisites.


Product Positioning: Introduction, Definition, Significance, Concept, Components, Steps, Strategies, Errors and Approaches

Product Positioning Introduction

Product positioning is closely related to market segment focus. Product positioning involves creating a unique, consistent, and recognized customer perception about a firm’s offering and image. A product or service may be positioned on the basis of an attitude or benefit, use or application, user, class, price, or level of quality.

It targets a product for specific market segments and product needs at specific prices. The same product can be positioned in many different ways. Another common framework for product positioning is taken from a series of questions.

Pertinent Questions Relating to Product Positioning:

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The company can position a product using a positioning statement that answers these important questions:

1. For who is the product designed?

2. What kind of product is it?

3. What is the single most important benefit it offers?

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4. Who is its most important competitor?

5. How is your product different from that competitor?

6. What is the significant customer benefit of that difference?


Product Positioning Definition

Once the market has been segmented and attractive segments have been identified, the next task is to work within a targeted segment to position the product in the minds of the consumers and develop a marketing mix that will satisfy the consumer.

Product positioning is the creation of a clear image in the minds of consumers within the targeted segment about the nature of the product and the benefits to be gained from purchasing the product. Positioning is the compliment of segmentation.

That is, segmentation identifies those segments of the population that will act similarly and develops products to meet each segment’s needs, whereas, positioning it conveys information about the products back to the segments for which they are appropriate.

A product’s position is how potential buyers see the product. Positioning is expressed relative to, the position of competitors. The term was coined in 1969 by Al Ries & Jack Trout in the paper “Positioning” is a game people play in toddy’s me-too market place in the publication industrial marketing.

Positioning is something (perception) that happens in the minds of the target market. It is the aggregate perception the market has of a particular company, product or service in relation to their perceptions of the competitors in the same category. It will happen whether or not a company’s management is proactive, reactive or passive about the on-going process of evolving a position. But a company can positively influence the perceptions through enlightened stratifications.

According the Journal of Advertising Research. “Product Positioning refers to a brand’s objective (functional) attributes in relation to other brands. It is a characteristic of the physical product and its functional features”.

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According to Kotler, “Positioning is the act of designing the company’s offerings and image to occupy a distinctive place in the target market’s mind.”

Positioning of products and their repositioning are very necessary in the dynamic marketing and selling environments. Product positioning consists of putting a certain product concept in the mind space of the customer. It ultimately means how a product is perceived against certain attributes vis-a-vis competitive products.

A drink can be positioned as a health drink for growing children or a geriatric drink, for the aged or a breakfast drink to flavor milk. A positioning stance is maintained over a period of time but it does not last forever. It is modified to suit the changing needs and wants of the customers.

Salespeople contribute substantially to the positioning concept. A combination of marketing and sales strategy is used to invest the product with a particular position. A salesperson must understand the product

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Product positioning means “relating a product to the market.” In simple words, group of customers with common characteristics are first identified. It also involves analysis of product strengths and weaknesses and competitor’s ability to meet customer needs. It is necessary to differentiate products from their competing ones.


Product Positioning Concept

Market segmentation strategy and product positioning strategy are like two sides of a coin. Once a firm has decided which segments (niches) of a market it will enter, it must decide what “positions” it wants to occupy in those segments. Marketer’s ability to bring attention to a product and to differentiate it in a favourable way from similar products goes a long way toward determining that product’s revenues and the company’s profits. Thus, marketing managers need to engage themselves in product positioning.

According to Kotler and Armstrong, “A product’s position is the way the product is defined by consumers on important attributes the place the product occupies in consumers’ minds relative to competing products.” In the words of William Stanton. “Positioning means developing the image that a product projects in relation to competitive products and to firm’s other products.”

Positioning can be defined as “identifying a market niche for a brand, product or service utilizing traditional marketing placement strategies such as price, promotion, distribution, packaging, and competition”.

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Positioning is also defined as “the way by which the marketers create an impression in the customers mind”.

The concept of positioning involves developing a marketing strategy aimed to a particular market segment and designed to achieve a desired position in the prospective buyer’s mind. For example, Ariel is positioned as the gentle detergent for fine washables and Tide is positioned as powerful, all-purpose family detergent. Similarly, Tata Nano is positioned on economy, Mercedes on luxury and BMW on performance.


Product Positioning Basis (With Examples)

Product positioning based on product attributes or benefits is the most commonly used strategy. Brands are set apart from competitors on the basis of some specific product feature or benefit offered. For years, Kelvinator refrigerator used to be advertised for its coolest compressors.

Hero Honda has emphasized the economy and reliability of its automobiles and has become the leader in the number of units sold. Hyundai Santro has stressed upon the manoeuvrability of the car on the roads and has become one such company having profits in the very first year of its operations in India.

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Though, one or more than one attributes can be chosen as a part of the positioning strategy, but communication about too many product attributes may lead to dilution in the product image and cause complications for the implementation of an advertising strategy.

At the same time, positioning the product for a single attribute or benefit in itself can also be a riskier proposition, as the product may loose its competitive advantage in case if competition follows. Therefore, only salient attributes are identified i.e. those that are important to the consumers and are the basis for making a purchase decision.

Product positioning for its price-quality characteristic is a very useful strategy particularly to those whose emphasis is on the provision of more services, features or performance. Manufacturers of premium products usually position the product for its high quality and charge a higher price. Some others, at the same time, do not like to make the trade-off between price-quality and offer the same or a slightly lesser product quality but at the competitive price, thus making it a more value based proposition for the consumer.

Product positioning by specific use or application is another significant way to enter the new market or to expand the existing market for the product. This can be used in addition to the earlier discussed positioning strategies.

For example, the ads for sugar free suggest it as not just an alternative to sugar for diabetic patients, but as health product to keep the body slim. Nestle India positioned Cadbury’s Chocolates as associated with celebrations and could make it to enter into the evoked set for gift giving. Dettol, an antiseptic lotion, must be found in every house, is now shown as a cleaning agent to give a germ free environment in the house.

Product positioning by product class involves positioning the product with respect to some other product category. The idea is to attract the non-users of the product category by communicating either the better value proposition or convenience or some new but related product experience.

The successful ‘Uncola’ campaign for 7-Up positioned it as an alternative to ‘cola’ drinks and created a separate segment who likes to have white drink and not the regular black drink. Deccan Airlines introduced as low cost airlines, for new class of travellers particularly those who travel long distances by railways.

When products are associated with certain users or a class of users, it is called positioning by product user. Here the use of celebrities as an endorser for the product is done to associate that celebrity’s image or personality with that of the product with an expectation that this will have an impact on product’s image and characteristics. There are instances both of durable and non-durable brands which have gained in terms of their sales and market share after being endorsed by celebrities. For Yamaha motorbikes, having John Abraham as the brand ambassador was a serious strategy.

Yamaha as a brand was struggling with its own set of problems – a fuddy-duddy image and a growing disconnect between the brand and its core target audience- the youth. This was reflected in the number of walking at its showrooms. To fix the problem it was decided to switch the positioning from utility biking to pleasure biking and John Abraham was the perfect fit. John Abraham – a suburban Mumbai boy and a Bollywood actor became popular as a stylish biker following his role in Dhoom.

This led the marketer to seek him out and associate him with brand like Yamaha. There was a true brand connection with John and the attributes Yamaha stands for- stylish, sporty and innovative. Also, it was a fit at another level. Abraham has been a bike enthusiast for a long time and research gave him green signal too, as he frequently shows up on listings of youth icons.

Though some kind of implicit comparison with the competitor is always involved in product promotion, this can actually be the part of product’s positioning. Explicitly, the focus is on some competitor from within the product class. This is known as positioning by competitor which involves comparison with the competitor’s product or competitor’s position in the market.

Competitor’s image can be taken as reference to build one’s own image. By using comparative advertising, the product is explicitly compared with the characteristics, particularly price and quality, of the competitor’s product.

To change or alter brand’s position in the market is termed as brand repositioning. Brand repositioning is done to sustain the declining product sale or to give a boost to stagnant product sale or to avail the anticipated market opportunities in the market. At times brands need repositioning to meet the challenges of competition. IODEX is the classic case of brand repositioning where the brand has been repositioned time and again to counter the rising competition of MOVE and other pain relieving ointments in the market.

By pegging more reasons to eat chocolates, Cadbury’s has been repositioned as choice of all age groups and not just for kids. However, brand repositioning strategy always involves the risk of failure as it is difficult to achieve in view of customers’ entrenched perceptions and attitudes towards the product or brand.

The case of LUX international soap repositioned as a soap having a unisex appeal and not just a gender specific product, on the eve of its celebrations of completion of its 75 years, is in the same direction. Even the use of a celebrity like Shah Rukh Khan could not achieve the very purpose of brand repositioning and very soon the ad campaign was withdrawn from media.


Product Positioning Significance

Following benefits of product positioning imply its importance or utility in marketing:

1. To Make Entire Organisation Market-Oriented:

Product positioning is a part of the broader marketing philosophy. It concerns with identifying superior aspects of product and matching them with consumers more effectively than competitions. This philosophy makes the entire organisation market oriented.

2. To Cope with Market Changes:

Once the product is positioned successfully doesn’t mean the task of manager is over. He has to constantly watch the market. As per new developments in the marketplace, new competitive advantages should be identified, discovered or developed to suit the changing expectations of the market. It makes the manager active, alert, and dynamic.

3. To Meet Expectation of Buyers:

Generally, the advantages to be communicated are decided on the basis of expectations of the target buyers. So, product positioning can help realize consumers’ expectations.

4. To Promote Consumer Goodwill and Loyalty:

Systematic product positioning reinforces the company’s name, its product and brand. It popularizes the brand. The company can create goodwill and can win customer loyalty.

5. To Design Promotional Strategy:

More meaningful promotional programme can be designed. Based on what advantages are to be communicated, appropriate means are selected to promote the product.

6. To Win Attention and Interest of Consumers:

Product positioning signifies those advantages that are significant to consumers. When such benefits are promoted through suitable means of advertising, it definitely catches the interest and attention of consumers.

7. To Attract Different Types of Consumers:

Consumers differ in terms of their expectations from the product. Some want durability; some want unique features; some want novelty; some wants safety; some want low price; and so on. A company, by promoting different types of competitive advantages, can attract different types of buyers.

8. To Face Competition:

This is the fundamental use of product positioning. Company can respond strongly to the competitors. It can improve its competitive strength.

9. To Introduce New Product Successfully:

Product positioning can assist a company in introducing a new product in the market. It can position new and superior advantages of the product and can penetrate the market easily.

10. To Communicate New and Varied Feature Added subsequently:

When a company changes qualities and/or features of the existing products, such improvements can be positioned against products offered by the competitors. Product positioning improves competitive strength of a company. Normally, consumers consider product advantages before they buy it. So, product positioning proves superiority of company’s offers over competitors. It may also help consumers in choosing the right product.


Product Positioning 4 Main Components

According to the Journal of Advertising Research, “Product positioning refers to a brand’s objective (functional) attributes in relation to other brands. It is a characteristic of the physical product and its functional features.”

According to Rosser Reeves, “Positioning is the art of selecting, out of a number of unique selling propositions, the one which will get you maximum sales.” Aaker maintains that product positioning is so central and critical that’ it should be considered at the level of a mission statement. It comes to represent the essence of a business.

1. Perceptual Mapping:

When a marketer intends to display his interest in the perceptions target consumer segments, the next step is to measure the perceptions, and measuring the perception in mathematical psychologists way is known as ‘perceptual mapping’.

Perceptual mapping is usually represented on two-dimensional scales so that the marketing manager can readily see where his own brand is positioned in the mind of his prospect and in relation to other brands.

John L. Hauser defined the perceptual mapping in the following words, “Perceptual mapping technique identifies the two dimensions that differentiate consumer perceptions of products and the positions of existing products on these dimensions.”

For mapping the perceptual position of parlour games in India, we can take three parameters:

a. Prices of parlour games.

b. Entertainment value of parlour games.

c. Frequency of visits to parlour games.

We can use the following steps for construction of perceptual mapping:

Step I- The parameters on which the map is to be prepared have to be identified.

Step II- Central tendency mean of parlour games parameters to be determined.

Step III- Inferences to be put on the map.

Step IV- Combination can also be calculated if it is required to understand perceptual mapping.

2. Product Benefits:

Product benefits facilitate consumers in their decision-making and reduce the uncertainty in their minds. They encapsulate its identity, origin, specificity, guarantee and how it is different from others. Product benefits can be offered through branding because the brand owner is able to earn an easy recognition and image compared to owners of unbranded products.

Product benefits can be converted into brand benefits to gain the following strategic relevance in marketing:

a. Brand aims to segment the market.

b. Brand helps in brand building.

c. Brand offers a value for money.

d. Brand helps in innovations.

e. Brand is a living memory.

We can conclude that product benefits constitute the heart of product management. It calls for innovative thoughts and continuous efforts.

3. Segmentation:

To the marketing manager of a firm, an understanding of its market and market dimensions is undoubtedly very important. In market segmentation, consumers are grouped in terms of market dimensions and then the firms attempt to match the needs or different consumer groups, through compatible marketing inputs encompassing product, price, promotion and distribution. Therefore, it can be useful for product positioning also.

4. Product Categories:

The nature of a product is found to have considerable impact on the method of product positioning. There are two classes of products — consumer goods and industrial goods, and this classification is useful in product positioning.

I. Positioning and Differentiation Strategies:

A firm that decides to operate in a heterogeneous market recognises that it normally cannot serve all customers in that market since the customers are too numerous, dispersed, and varied in their buying requirements. Differentiation could be based on product and service qualities or on perceived benefits as communicated to the customer.

II. Product Design as a Differentiating Strategy:

Product design is one of the most important ways to differentiate and position a company’s products and services in various market segments.

III. Product Quality and Customer Satisfaction:

Steps for product quality should be initiated from the top management of the organisation. Quality has to be created to ensure customer satisfaction and must be integrated with the process of strategic thinking and planning. The focus must be on the customer. Product quality and customer satisfaction can be managed by the concept of total quality approach.


Product Positioning Steps

The product positioning includes following steps:

Step # 1. Identifying the Differences or Positioning Concept:

Marketers have to understand consumer motives behind purchasing a product. This will help in identifying the positioning theme. A marketer can adopt several approaches in positioning his product to develop or enhance its value to the customers. A marketing offer can be differentiated on the basis of product, services, people, channel and image.

So different strategies for product positioning are given below:

i. Product Differentiation – Product can be differentiated on attributes like shape, size, colour, quality, performance etc. For example, Colgate introduced a herbal version using the positioning of the natural feel preferred in rural areas.

ii. Services Differentiation – Services can be differentiated in respect of delivery, installation and maintenance. Long warranty periods, free service coupons, 24 hours services, emergency care etc. are some examples. Reliance, a private LPG company pitted against the three well established public sector undertakings (IOCL, HPCL, BPCL) differentiated its products on the basis of distribution and better refilling facility. It successfully differentiated its products despite the fact that they are priced higher.

iii. People Differentiation – People or personalities (film and sports celebrities) that consumers respect and admire to bring a differentiation to the image of products and services. For example, Aamir Khan endorsing Coca-Cola in a villager’s outfit brings a huge differentiation to the product image and help in pushing sales.

iv. Image Differentiation – The image of a brand or a company may win the consumer, despite the product being very similar to a competitive one. Image is built through advertisements, symbols, signs, colours, logos etc. Special care should be taken while doing so in the case of rural consumers.

Step # 2. Select the Positioning Concept:

As there can be various parameters for positioning the product, the marketer has to select the best and most effective alternatives. A marketers has to select a positioning concept that serves as a bridge between the products and the target market.

Some of the critical factors that should be considered while positioning a brand are:

a. Attractive – Does it provide value to the customer?

b. Distinctive – Is it different from that of its competitors?

c. Preemptive – Is it very difficult for competitors to copy it?

d. Affordable – Can buyers pay for it?

e. Communicable – Can the difference be clearly expressed.

Step # 3. Developing the Concept:

Once the positioning strategy has been selected, the marketer needs to develop the concept in an effective manner so that it can be properly address to the target market. Then he has to select the appropriate media vehicle to reach the target market effectively. Marketers should strive towards linking the positioning closer to the target customers to ensure that it appeals to them.

Step # 4. Communicating the Concept:

After developing the concept, high tech position may be communicated by futuristic products, classy ads in elite journals and large show rooms with good atmosphere. An effective communication is one that clarifies the target market, value proposition and the supporting product differentiation. For rural areas, the positioning should be the generic benefit of the product. Sprite Bujhaye only pyaas baki sab bakwas and Thanda Matlab Coca Cola are some of the suitable lines for rural markets.


Product Positioning – 7 Main Positioning Strategies

A product positioning strategy is vital to provide focus to the development of promotional technique. The strategy can be conceived and implemented in a variety of ways that derive from the attributes, competition, specific applications, the type of consumers involved, or the characteristics of the product class.

Positioning strategy are:

1) Using Product Characteristics or Customer Benefits:

Probably the most-used positioning strategy is to associate an object with a product characteristic or customer benefit. For example, Honda and Toyota have emphasized economy and reliability and have become the leaders in the number of units sold. Volvo have stressed safety and durability.

Although this may be a successful way to indicate product superiority, consumers are generally more interested in what such features mean to them, that is, how they can benefit by the product.

2) Positioning by Price and Quality:

The price quality product characteristic is so useful and pervasive that it is appropriate to consider it separately. In many product categories, there exist brands that deliberately attempt to offer more in terms of service, features or performance. Manufacturers of such brands charge more, partly to cover higher costs, and partly to help communicate the fact that they are of higher quality. Conversely, in the same product class there are usually other brands that appeal on the basis of price, although they might also try to be perceived as having comparable at least adequate quality.

3) Positioning by Use or Application:

Another way to communicate an image is to associate the product with a use, or application. Products can of course, have multiple positioning strategies, although increasing the number involves obvious difficulties and risks. Often a positioning-by-use strategy represents a second or third position for the brand, a position that deliberately attempts to expand the brand’s market.

For e.g. – Campbell’s Soup for many years was positioned for use in lunch time and advertised extensively over noon time radio. It now stresses a variety of uses for soup/recipes are on labels and a broader time for consumption, with the more general theme “Soup is good food”.

4) Positioning by Product User:

Another positioning approach is to associate a product with a user or a class of users. Some cosmetics companies seek a successful, highly visible model as their spokesperson as the association for their brand. Michael Jordan, for example was used by products as diverse as Nike, McDonald’s etc.

5) Positioning by Product Class:

Some products need to make critical positioning decisions that involve product-class associations. For example, Dove positioned itself apart from the soap category, as a cleansing cream product, for women with dry skin.

6) Positioning by Cultural Symbols:

Many marketers use deeply entrenched cultural symbols to differentiate their brand from competitors. The essential task is to identify something that is very meaningful to people that other competitors are not using and associate the brand with that symbol. Pillsbury’s “doughboy” is an example that illustrates this type of positioning strategy.

7) Positioning by Competitors:

In most positioning strategies, an explicit or implicit frame of reference is one or more competitors. In some cases the reference competitors can be the dominant aspect of the positioning strategy. It is useful to consider positioning with respect to a competitor for two reasons.

First, a competitor may have a firm, well crystallized image developed over many years.

Second, sometimes it is not important how good customers think you are; it is just important that they believe you are better than a given competitor.


Product Positioning – 6 Main Types of Positioning Approaches

Companies usually focus on a particular type of positioning approach in building brand success.

1. User Centric Approach:

One approach to positioning the brand is to focus on a specific user, or type of customer. For example, Nike uses this positioning approach in many of its advertisements where it targets particular athletes in sports such as, football or basketball. The company presents messages showing its shoes and apparel being used in a targeted athletic event. By emphasizing the value of quality shoes from a trusted brand, Nike is able to maintain market leadership as a provider of athletic shoes and apparel.

2. Benefit Approach:

Benefit positioning is done when a brand offers one or more superior benefits in comparison with the competition, or when a particular benefit is a major selling point to a target customer group. This approach is closely related to the product features approach. Here also the focus is on the extra benefit the consumer would receive on the product. For example “Sensodyne Toothpaste” offers the benefit that the user can avoid having sensitive teeth apart from getting whiter and brighter teeth.

“Don’t sell the steak sell the sizzle” is the mantra of this approach.

3. Competitive Approach:

In highly competitive industries, companies try to develop a brand by comparing their benefits directly to those offered by competitors. This sort of positioning strategy is often used by a challenger brand trying to present a better value, or combination of price and benefits, to customers. Major competitors often use this approach.

4. Price-Driven Approach:

Companies often use a low-price approach to positioning. In this way, the company is able to promote itself as the most affordable company in comparison with the other companies in the same industry.

5. Product Features Approach:

The product may be positioned on the basis of product features. For example an advertisement may attempt to position the product by reference to its specific features. Although this may be a successful way to indicate product superiority, consumers are generally more interested in what such features mean to them, that is, how they can benefit by the product. For example Maruti has been focussing on “good mileage” as the additional feature and “Hundai” talks about “better comfort” as the main feature.

6. Product Usage Approach:

This technique in related to benefit positioning. Many products are sold on the basis of their consumer usage situation. Companies have sometimes sought to broaden their brand’s association with a particular usage or situation. When LCD TV was launched, it was very expensive and was more a status symbol.

Soon cheaper LCD TVs were launched by LG India focusing on the fact that it could be wall mounted and would take least space and would suit smaller house owners. In fact, they manufactured LCD TV’s in all sizes.


Product Positioning 4 Different Positioning Possibilities

The different positioning possibilities are as follows:

1. Attribute Positioning- A company positions itself on an attribute, such as size or number of years in existence. For e.g., positioning by attribute is common in the automobile industry — Volvo emphasizes safety and durability, while jeep emphasizes off-roading ability.

2. Benefit Positioning- The product is positioned as the leader in a certain benefit. Kellogg’s may try to position itself as a food that reduces two kgs. of weight by taking two bowls of Kellogg’s for two weeks.

3. Use or Application Positioning- Positioning the product as best for some use or application. When positioning by application, this means by what the product will be used for. For instance, Nescafe coffee is positioned as being the best choice for coffee.

4. User Positioning- Positioning the product as best for some user group. Product user positioning is demonstrated by Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo.

5. Competitor Positioning- The product claims to be better in some way than a competitor. For example, Vatika claims that it is better in comparison to coconut oil.

6. Product Category Positioning- The product is positioned as the leader in a certain category. Colgate can position itself as a toothpaste which gives full protection to teeth.

7. Quality or Price Positioning- The product is positioned as offering the best value. Price is the easiest way for consumers to compare their product with that of competitors — people know the difference in clothing price when they’re choosing between shopping at Pantaloons and Westside.

The number of differentiation opportunities varies with the type of industry.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCC) has distinguished four types of industries based on the number of competitive advantages and on the basis of their size which are as follows:

1. Volume Industry:

An industry characterized by few opportunities to create competitive advantages, but each advantage is huge and gives a high pay-off. In this industry companies can gain only a few, but rather large, competitive advantages. In the construction-equipment industry, a company can strive for the low-cost position or the highly differentiated position and win big on either basis. Profitability is correlated with company size and market share.

2. Stalemated Industry:

An industry that produces commodities and is characterized by a few opportunities to create competitive advantages, with each advantage being small. The potential competitive advantages in this industry are few but small. In the steel industry, it is difficult to differentiate the product or decrease manufacturing costs.

Companies can only try to hire good salespeople, so that they can treat customers in a better way, and the like, but the advantages from this are small. Profitability is not related to company market share.

3. Fragmented Industry:

An industry characterized by many opportunities to create competitive advantages, but each advantage is small. The companies in this industry face many opportunities for differentiation, but each opportunity for competitive advantage is small. A restaurant can differentiate in many ways but do not gain a large market share. A profitable or unprofitable situation can occur for both small and large restaurants.

4. Specialized Industry:

An industry where there are many opportunities for firms to create a competitive advantage that are huge or gives a high pay-off. Among companies making specialized machinery for selected market segments, some small companies can be as profitable as some large companies.

According to Lele, companies differ in their potential manoeuvrability along five dimensions- target market, product, place (channels), promotion, and price. The company’s freedom is affected by the industry structure and the firm’s position in the industry. For each potential, the company needs to estimate the return.


Product Positioning Errors in Positioning

Positioning is undeniably a tough job, and if a marketer attempts to position a product without careful planning, it becomes very difficult to sustain the product in the market and derive a competitive advantage.

There are certain errors that might creep up while positioning a product:

1. Obvious Aspects of the Product Features – Quite often, it happens that a product is positioned on the basis of the obvious aspects of the product features; this become too predictable and the charm in positioning is lost. However, many times, the obvious aspects have to be used for positioning.

2. Living in the Future – Most companies try to live in the future rather than position their products based on their current capabilities.

3. Diluting the Positioning Strategy – Marketers often commit the mistake of diluting the positioning strategy to make it more attractive. Products should be positioned with powerful ideas and communicated as they are. But normally marketers come out with a simple positioning idea and pass it on to the creative department. This is where the strength of the positioning gets diluted and the process is known as under positioning.

4. Over Positioning – Just as under positioning of a brand is a possibility, there is also scope for over positioning a brand. In this situation, buyers may have a very narrow image of the company’s brand. Over positioning is usually seen in cases where the firm initially promotes its brand as a premium brand. For example, customers perceive the Tanishq jewelry brand to be very high priced, while the reality is quite the opposite as Tanishq offers jewelry that suits every budget also.

5. Short-term Gains – Companies often position their products such that it helps them achieve short-term sales and profits. Issues like stocks and share prices are a major reason for this type of positioning. But positioning has to be done keeping in mind long-term gains in the market and not short-term gains.

6. Confused Positioning – Another error is confused positioning. Marketers should not confuse consumers by meddling too much with the positioning strategies of their established brands.

7. Doubtful Positioning – Sometimes companies try to create brand awareness among customers even before positioning the brand clearly in the market. This phenomenon, known as doubtful positioning, can lead to a bad positioning of the product in the market, and often generates a negative attitude towards the brand.

8. Positioning on the Wrong Attributes – Companies quite often do not realize what customers expect from a product. As a result, they position the product based on the wrong attributes or on attributes that are of no interest to the customers.

Kotler says that a firm should avoid four major positioning errors, namely:

1. Under Positioning – This occurs when buyers know much less about the brand or do not know anything special about the brand.

2. Over Positioning – When buyers have too narrow a view of the firm, the product or brand, for example, buyers may perceive Ram Maica as offering only quality decorative laminates, when in reality it offered decorative glass and flush doors too.

3. Confused Positioning – Buyers may have a confused image of the brand. This may occur as a result of frequent changes in the positioning statement.

4. Doubtful Positioning – Occurs when buyers doubt the veracity of the claims made by the firm.


Product Positioning Requisites for Successful Positioning: 7 Essential Qualities

For position to be successful, there are seven qualities:

1. Relevance:

Positions that do not focus on benefits that are important to people or reflect the character of the product will fail. Often in their search for differentiation, marketers seize upon some attribute in their product which is different but in reality is of little concern to customers. This is a waste of time and money. The lonely Maytag repairman, who symbolizes reliability, is an example of powerful position based on the quality built into the appliances.

2. Clarity:

A position should be easy to communicate and quick to comprehend. Difficulty is either suggest that a position is fuzzy to be of value to the brand, “We try harder because we are number two” established Avis as a major league competitor quickly and simply.

3. Distinctiveness:

People have few needs that are unfulfilled, and they have many choices to fill the needs they have. If a brand’s position lacks distinctiveness it will be forced to compete on the bases of price or promotion; expensive strategies that will not build brand equity in the long term.

4. Coherence:

Speak with one voice through all the elements of the marketing mix to create a strong position. If, i.e., a brand that is positioned as premium quality and price appears in an end-aisle “sale” display, its quality image will suffer. The shipping cartons, freight pallets, envelope franking, packaging, advertising, promotions, shell display, etc., should all reflect and translate the brand’s position into appropriate form for the media.

5. Commitment:

Often people will get nervous when strong position threatens to ignore or even alienate some segment of the population as a price of clearly communicating desired target. Once a position is adopted, it takes commitment to see it through, in the face of criticism and pot shots.

6. Patience:

Crest has dominated its market for over thirty years. When it was first introduced, positioned as a cavity fighter its share never rose above 13% for three years. The ADA approval was the key to launching the brand to over 40% of the market. Had P&G lost patience after two or three years, someone else would be enjoying the profits of the powerful brand position.

7. Courage:

It goes without saying that adopting a strong brand position requires bravery. It is much easier to defend an appeal to everyone with rather generic sales pitch. It must be believed that the position makes strategic sense for this brand and then stick to your guns.

Adopting a strong position is not a passive act; rather it is a deliberate attempt to influence events, requires ignoring certain business targets in favor of others, and if successful, will yield growth in sales and profits and a consumer franchise who believe that this brand has no adequate substitute even if it costs more.


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