If there is one company that has played the market positioning strategy game with terrifying efficiency is Coca Cola.
All they sell is sugary aerated water.
But the kind of image that they have raked for themselves over the years with the help of their positioning strategy marketing is a case study in itself.
The 135-year old company has the most “brand power” and it looks like it won’t stop being a favorite any time soon.
Why do people queue up for miles when a new iPhone is launched or when a new McDonald’s outlet is opened?
That’s the power of having a clever market positioning strategy.
What is market positioning strategy?
Influencing the perception of consumers with the help of an image or a brand identity is called market positioning strategy. The more detailed a positioning strategy is, the better it is going to be. By creating a favorable image in the minds of the target audience, businesses will be able to influence their buying behavior. For example, someone who buys Apple products believes that it is of superior quality. Why? Because that has been the kind of positioning that Apple has created amongst its users.
Even a simple advert of it that says, “If you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone” is a classic way to make the users believe that it is an aspirational product.
The right kind of market positioning strategy and market research will require having the right values, messaging, experience, and the right branding. There are a lot of items that need to fall in place for the market positioning strategy to be successful.
What are the standard types of market positioning strategies?
While there are different types of market positioning strategies, they are mainly divided based on the following standards:
What are common positioning strategies?
Positioning is one of the most fundamental aspects of marketing for both B2B products and consumer durables. There are many ways in which you can position yourself. Coca Cola wants consumers to think of them as a brand that spreads happiness. Amazon wants you to think of them as a brand from which you can get any product or as a brand whose customer service is out-of-the-world. Sony wants you to think of their product as extremely superior when compared to their peers.
Each of these brands has chosen different strategies to position themselves. Let’s look at the different ways in which positioning strategy marketing happens.
#1 Positioning using pricing:
There are brands that want you to believe that you pay a premium for their products because they are the best in the market. Their premium pricing could also be because of better service, extra features, better performance, and so on. They want consumers to believe that they will be getting all the extras, which is why they have been charged higher costs. The price-quality approach is pivotal, and a lot of customers also believe firmly that the more they pay, the better the quality of the products.
#2 Positioning using buyer benefits:
Amazon is also known for its extraordinary customer service. They are famous for the way they treat their customers and have managed to keep that brand image for a long time. When a customer is about to buy a product from Amazon, they know that they will not be swindled, and if there is any issue with the seller or the product that they received, the customer will be taken care of. Using buyer benefits as a market positioning strategy, you will be able to draw huge crowds to your business, just like Amazon does. But if you want your customers to think of your brand as durable, reliable, economical or even trustworthy, you need to prove them.
#3 Positioning based on quality:
Positioning a product based on its quality is different from doing so based on its price. Often, brands don’t want to communicate much about its price point, and would rather have their customers think about the quality of their products.
#4 Positioning based on product use:
One more way to position your product is to associate your brand with a particular use. For example, a fitness band could be described as a product for people who are looking for a nudge to start their fitness goals. Another way to position would be for people who want to complete the proverbial 10,000 steps every day. There are many ways to position one’s product, even based on its use or application.
There are multiple ways in which product positioning is done apart from the ones mentioned above. It can be based on cultural symbols, competitors, product class, and so on.
Steps to create an effective market positioning strategy:
Creating an effective strategy of the position will help your brand to attract the right kind of audience. There are a lot of variables that need to be aligned for the product positioning to be effective. The brand should possess immense clarity about who they are, what they do and where they want to go. With the help of the right segmentation, targeting and positioning activities, you will be able to show the uniqueness of your product to your target audience.
#1 Create a product positioning statement:
What is your business striving for? That’s your positioning statement. It will be the basis of who you are, what you do and how you do something. Every decision that you take will be based on this. Based on the positioning statement, you will be able to identify the target audience, the pain points that you solve for them, and so on.
How do you create an effective product positioning statement?
- Define your brand
- Define your target audience
- Write down the pain points that you solve for your customer
- Create content that showcases the value that you bring.
Here is Amazon’s positioning statement for you:
“Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
The above product positioning statement tells you a lot about what they aim to achieve as a brand, doesn’t it?
Do you want to get inspired by more positioning statements?
Well, you can find the positioning statement of Coca Cola below:
For individuals looking for high-quality beverages, Coca-Cola offers a wide range of the most refreshing options — each creates a positive experience for customers when they enjoy a Coca-Cola brand drink. Unlike other beverage options, Coca-Cola products inspire happiness and make a positive difference in customers’ lives, and the brand is intensely focused on the needs of consumers and customers.
Did you notice the word happiness in their market positioning statement? That’s what their market positioning strategy is all about too.
Let us look at Nike’s positioning statement:
For athletes in need of high-quality, fashionable athletic wear, Nike provides customers with top-performing sports apparel and shoes made of the highest quality materials. Its products are the most advanced in the athletic apparel industry because of Nike’s commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies.
All these companies have explained in detail about who they are, what they want to be and have written down their values accordingly in their positioning statement.
#2 Segment your customers:
The big daddy of every marketing campaign is segmentation. If you do not segment your customers/ prospects based on different characteristics, it will almost be impossible to get most of your audience interested in you. A teenager who is a part of your target audience will not be convinced by your advert that is aimed at adults.
Everything from where they are located to the kind of job they do has an impact on their buying behavior. It is imperative that you create different kinds of marketing messages for each segment of your customers so that you can target them accordingly. You can take the help of your CRM system to segment your customers based on the various data points on it.
#3 Competitive Analysis:
When you are creating a market positioning strategy, you should ensure that you study a lot about your competitors. Without knowing them, you will have very few teeth in the fight. Understanding how your competitors operate will give you immense clarity, and it will also help with your brand positioning strategies as well.
Here are some of the competitor aspects on which you need to have clarity:
- Who are your main competitors?
- What are the themes that their customers associate them with?
- Are there competitors who are extremely popular?
- What do the above competitors especially do which the rest don’t?
- How is the industry faring at this period of time?
- What is the growth rate of your competitors?
- Do you know everything about their marketing strategies?
- What is their communication strategy like?
- Look at the different types of content that they create
- Check out how they fare on social media and what they do there regularly
- It is almost a given that businesses use competitors as a frame of reference with everything that they do.
#4 Find out where you currently stand:
Once you know how your competitors are faring, it is time for you to analyze where you stand. When you get an understanding of where you stand, you should also look at all the things that made you reach that point. In other words, what were the efforts that you took, how they impacted your current business state and so on.
Apart from analyzing where you stand, find out where you are when you compare with your competitors. You can use some of the above questions in competitor analysis to make a comparative study.
Study what your customers think of you currently and how you think your business ranks. Once you have a clearer understanding of who you are and what you want to be, you will be able to create your market positioning strategy with ease.
#5 Develop your market positioning strategy:
Now that you have a unique understanding of what your business stands for, how your customers think about you and what your competitors are currently doing, you are better placed in a position to create a market positioning strategy. You know who you want to be and who you do not want to be. The marketing efforts that you plan to undertake to create a market positioning strategy should be in such a way that it will create an impact in the minds of your target audience. If it doesn’t resonate with your audience, then it will be a failure.
#6 Review your market positioning strategy:
The strategy of positioning that you have chosen for your brand should be something that everyone who is a target audience should be able to relate with. You want to make sure it gels well with everything that you stand for. That’s exactly why you need to keep reviewing and refining your market positioning strategy. Keep finding continuous improvements in it so that it is incomplete alignment with what you had in mind while trying to craft a market positioning strategy from the beginning.
Do remember that your market positioning strategy is an all-encompassing aspect of your brand, which, when changed, will reflect in a lot of things. Right from the emails, you send to the way you interact with your prospective customers will change. So the changes you made should have a lot of sense for your brand.
The reviewing process should include as many stakeholders who have ample knowledge about your industry and the organization. It cannot be left at the mercy of just a few experts who might not necessarily be emotionally invested with the organization. The review team might even end up coming to a conclusion where they realize that the new market positioning strategy will not work out for you. If that’s the case, then do not think twice about scrapping it. Start the work from scratch, and this time, ensure that there are checks and balances kept in order to ensure that you are in the right direction.
What is market repositioning?
When a company changes its existing brand image or product status, it is called market repositioning. Such an exercise is done when the company is trying to change its perception amongst the audience, when there is a decline in sales, or when there is a major shift in the markets in which they operate or because of an obsolete value proposition. There are companies that would rather work on creating a new product line or extend their products instead of market repositioning as the former requires lesser efforts.
Examples of market repositioning:
#1 Google was just a search engine before it started doing everything possible with the internet.
#2 Did you know that Colgate used to sell starch, candles and soap during its beginning? They repositioned themselves as a toothpaste brand, and it has worked quite well for them, isn’t it?
#3 Taco Bell changed its perception from cheap Mexican food to a youth lifestyle brand. Their current slogan, “Live Mas!” means “live more.”
#4 After the 2008 depression, Starbucks launched a marketing campaign to reassure its customers that it was worth the extra cost as people were shifting to cheaper options like McDonald’s.
Below are some of the lines that struck a chord with its target audience:
- “Beware a cheaper cup of coffee. It comes with a price.”
- “Starbucks or nothing. Because compromise leaves a really bad aftertaste.”
- “If your coffee isn’t perfect, we’ll make it over. If it’s still not perfect, you must not be in a Starbucks.”
#5 When Covid-19 happened, advertisers cut budgets, and Spotify was hit big time. Here’s how they repositioned themselves- A. They started focusing on original content like podcasts and Spotify Originals, B. They invested a lot of effort into creating curated playlists from internal and external experts, AI, and celebrities. This step labeled them as a band that played with the music tastes of people and not just a music provider. Exclusive celebrity podcast deals and artist-curated playlists expanded big time, and they ended up getting a lot of new subscribers.
Wrapping it up..
Choosing the market positioning strategy for your brand is no child’s play. It is a monumental change that requires steady heads and a multitude of resources for its successful execution. There are many more variables that you will encounter while positioning your business for success. Every problem, solution, obstacle, pricing, firmographic factors, demographic factors, etc., ensure that you have your market positioning strategy on point.
Your market positioning strategy should be connected with your target audience and how it can make their experience with you better. If you are a customer-focused company, then creating the right strategy will be easy for you.
One of the basic requirements while creating a market positioning strategy is to collect as much data as possible from different sources. It will help with refining your campaign. For such an exercise, it is best to use the services of an online survey tool like SurveySparrow, which will help you collect information from your customers, employees and other stakeholders.