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Market Positioning Strategies
Market Positioning is about ‘where organisations want customers to place them in the market based on their brand, product and pricing’. For example do customers view you as a quality brand? a firm selling unique products? or a business offering value products? Market positioning involves effectively conveying marketing messages about your brand, pricing and product to your target market so that they position your firm and its products and pricing exactly where you would like them to.
Brands can be worth billions which is why firms will fight fiercely to protect their brands. Once you have built a brand, loyal customers will flock to buy your products without a second thought; compare the excitement generated by the release of a new iPhone/Samsung against the release of a new phone model from a less popular brand. Similarly a brand with a damaged reputation will soon disappear from the market for example a comment by former chairman Gerald Ratner led to the demise of the jewellery group Ratners. When it comes to brand positioning the question for the firm is to decide where they would like to position their brand, will it be a luxury designer brand such as Gucci and Versace? Or a mid range brand such as the British supermarket Tescos Plc?
Brand Positioning Example
Car manufacturer Daewoo in the UK, has successfully positioned themselves as the family value model. Before Volkswagen purchased Skoda it had a negative image and known as a cheap car make in the UK. However Volkswagen have successfully repositioned the brand so it is now known as a "good" make which regularly wins car of the year awards. Positive comments from the car industry combined with successful design changes has changed the perception of consumers about the Skoda brand.
Developing a Product Positioning Strategy
The first step in developing your product positioning strategy is market research. You will need to find out what features buyers in your chosen market segment feel that your product type should have. This stage is researching product features in general not features offered by specific brands e.g. smart phone features, television features, washing up powder features. Once you have identified preferred product features and how consumers rank them against each other, make a list of products on the market which offer those features. Finally draw out a positioning (perceptual) map showing preferred product features and which competitor products offer those features. For comparison purposes, it may also be useful to place your own product on the positioning map as well. For advice on how to draw out a positioning map read our market positioning and perceptual maps article. Now that you can see how competitor products are positioned in your chosen market segment and where your product is currently placed, you need to make some decisions about where you would like to position your product.
The price of your products and services will affect how customers view the product and the firm if your products are in the same price range. In general customers believe that an expensive product is a quality product. However if low quality product is priced as a quality product it is highly likely that customers will discover that the price does not reflect quality. Instead a better way to position your product would be to set your price based on the strength of your brand, your product's features/benefits and the results from your market research.
Finalising Your Positioning Strategy
Developing a positioning strategy depends much on how firms position themselves. Do organisations want to develop ‘a me too’ strategy and position themselves close to their competitors so consumers can make a direct comparison when they purchase? Or does the organisation want to develop a strategy which positions them away from their competitors? For example by offering a feature not offered by competitors. This may be a feature that your market research revealed buyers in your market segment rank as important.
Ultimately positioning is about how you want consumers to perceive your brand, products (and services) or pricing and the strategies you adopt to reach this perceptual goal. This may involving finding the "gap" in the market or deliberately positioning yourself in the same place as your competitors because you believe that "you can do it better than them". Its also about helping to decide the price and quality of your products and services as these affect how customers view your product and where your product is placed in the market. For more information about how to decide where to position your firm and how to draw a perceptual map, read our Perceptual Mapping article.