Positioning Product Class

David Aaker Pyramide

Exhibit 2-13 Positioning that focuses on the competition

David Aaker and John Myers note that the term position has been used to indicate the brand's or product's image in the marketplace.8 Jack Trout and Al Ries suggest that this brand image must contrast with competitors. They say, "In today's marketplace, the competitors' image is just as important as your own. Sometimes more important."9 Thus, positioning, as used in this text, relates to the image of the product and or brand relative to competing products or brands. The position of the product or brand is the key factor in communicating the benefits it offers and differentiating it from the competition. Let us now turn to strategies marketers use to position a product.

Developing a Positioning Strategy To create a position for a product or service, Trout and Ries suggest that managers ask themselves six basic questions:10

1. What position, if any, do we already have in the prospect's mind? (This information must come from the marketplace, not the managers' perceptions.)

2. What position do we want to own?

3. What companies must be outgunned if we are to establish that position?

4. Do we have enough marketing money to occupy and hold the position?

5. Do we have the guts to stick with one consistent positioning strategy?

6. Does our creative approach match our positioning strategy?

A number of positioning strategies might be employed in developing a promotional program. David Aaker and J. Gary Shansby discuss six such strategies: positioning by product attributes, price/quality, use, product class, users, and competitor.11 Aaker and Myers add one more approach, positioning by cultural symbols.12

Positioning by Product Attributes and Benefits A common approach to positioning is setting the brand apart from competitors on the basis of the specific characteristics or benefits offered. Sometimes a product may be positioned on more than one product benefit. Marketers attempt to identify salient attributes (those that are important to consumers and are the basis for making a purchase decision). For example, when Apple first introduced its computers, the key benefit stressed was ease of use—an effective strategy, given the complexity of computers in the market at that time.

Positioning by Price/Quality Marketers often use price/quality characteristics to position their brands. One way they do this is with ads that reflect the image of a high-quality brand where cost, while not irrelevant, is considered secondary to the quality benefits derived from using the brand. Premium brands positioned at the high end of the market use this approach to positioning.

Another way to use price/quality characteristics for positioning is to focus on the quality or value offered by the brand at a very competitive price. For example, the Lands' End ad shown in Exhibit 2-14 uses this strategy by suggesting that quality need not be unaffordable. Remember that although price is an important consideration, the product quality must be comparable to, or even better than, competing brands for the positioning strategy to be effective.

Positioning by Use or Application Another way to communicate a specific image or position for a brand is to associate it with a specific use or application. For example, Black & Decker introduced the Snakelight as an innovative solution to the problem of trying to hold a flashlight while working. A TV commercial showed various uses for the product, while creative packaging and in-store displays were used to communicate the uses (Exhibit 2-15).

Exhibit 2-14 Lands' End positions its brand as having high quality for the Exhibit 2-15 Black & Decker shows right price the various uses of the Snakelight

Exhibit 2-14 Lands' End positions its brand as having high quality for the Exhibit 2-15 Black & Decker shows right price the various uses of the Snakelight

Lands End High Quality

While this strategy is often used to enter a market on the basis of a particular use or application, it is also an effective way to expand the usage of a product. For example, Arm & Hammer baking soda has been promoted for everything from baking to relieving heartburn to eliminating odors in carpets and refrigerators (Exhibit 2-16).

Positioning by Product Class Often the competition for a product comes from outside the product class. For example, airlines know that while they compete with other airlines, trains and buses are also viable alternatives. Amtrak has positioned itself as an alternative to airplanes, citing cost savings, enjoyment, and other advantages. Manufacturers of music CDs must compete with MP3 players; many margarines position themselves against butter. Rather than positioning against another brand, an alternative

Exhibit 2-16 Arm &

Hammer baking soda demonstrates numerous product uses

Exhibit 2-16 Arm &

Hammer baking soda demonstrates numerous product uses

Positioning Product Class

Exhibit 2-17 An example of positioning by product class strategy is to position oneself against another product category, as shown in Exhibit 2-17.

Positioning by Product User Positioning a product by associating it with a particular user or group of users is yet another approach. An example would be the Valvoline ad shown in Exhibit 2-18. This campaign emphasizes identification or association with a specific group, in this case, people who receive pleasure from working on their cars.

Positioning by Competitor Competitors may be as important to positioning strategy as a firm's own product or services. As Trout and Ries observe, the old strategy of ignoring one's competition no longer works.13 (Advertisers used to think it was a cardinal sin to mention a competitor in their advertising.) In today's market, an effective positioning strategy for a product or brand may focus on specific competitors. This approach is similar to positioning by product class, although in this case the competition is within the same product category. Perhaps the best-known example of this strategy was Avis, which positioned itself against the car-rental leader, Hertz, by stating, "We're number two, so we try harder." The Powerade ad shown earlier (Exhibit 2-13) is an example of positioning a brand against the competition. When positioning by competitor, a marketer must often employ another positioning strategy as well to differentiate the brand.

Positioning by Cultural Symbols Aaker and Myers include an additional positioning strategy in which cultural symbols are used to differentiate brands. Examples are the Jolly Green Giant, the Keebler elves, Speedy Alka-Seltzer, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Buster Brown, Ronald McDonald, Chiquita Banana, and Mr. Peanut. Each of these symbols has successfully differentiated the product it represents from competitors' (Exhibit 2-19).

Exhibit 2-19 The Jolly Green Giant is Exhibit 2-20 This ad is one of a series used in the successful a cultural symbol campaign to reposition Rolling Stone magazine

Repositioning One final positioning strategy involves altering or changing a product's or brand's position. Repositioning a product usually occurs because of declining or stagnant sales or because of anticipated opportunities in other market positions. Repositioning is often difficult to accomplish because of entrenched perceptions about and attitudes toward the product or brand. Many companies' attempts to change their positions have met with little or no success. For example, Kmart (the store) and Aurora (the Oldsmobile) have both attempted to reposition themselves to a level of higher quality, appealing to younger and more well-to-do customers. Both have met with limited success. (Kmart is in bankruptcy and the Oldsmobile line will be discontinued). Nutri-Grain Bars—originally positioned as a convenience snack ("Good food to go")—have been repositioned as a breakfast substitute ("Respect yourself in the morning"). Buick has repositioned in an attempt to reach a younger market (using Tiger Woods, in his twenties, as a spokesperson), while La-Z-Boy is attempting to move away from its blue-collar image and to a more affluent one. Sears has changed its positioning so often in recent years that consumers may not know exactly what image the company is trying to convey.

One extremely successful effort at repositioning was employed by Rolling Stone magazine. In an attempt to change advertisers' image of the type of person who reads Rolling Stone, the company embarked on an extensive advertising campaign directed at potential advertisers. The ad shown in Exhibit 2-20 is just one example of how this strategy was successfully implemented.

IMC Perspective 2-1 describes how Jet Blue has been successful in its positioning efforts in a very competitive market.

Determining the Positioning Strategy Having explored the alternative positioning strategies available, the marketer must determine which strategy is best suited for the firm or product and begin developing the positioning platform. As you remember from the promotional planning process in Chapter 1, the input into this stage will be derived from the situation analysis—specifically, the marketing research conducted therein. Essentially, the development of a positioning platform can be broken into a six-step process:14

1. Identifying competitors. This process requires broad thinking. Competitors may not be just those products and/or brands that fall into our product class or with which we compete directly. For example, a red wine competes with other red wines of various positions. It may also compete with white, sparkling, and nonalcoholic wines. Wine coolers provide an alternative, as do beer and other alcoholic drinks. Other

Belch: Advertising and I. Introduction to Integrated 2. The Role of IMC in the © The McGraw-Hill

Promotion, Sixth Edition Marketing Marketing Process Companies, 2003


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