When Positions Collide

Some positions, just like some .segments, do not mix. In an attempt to understand classical concert goers, London's South Bank Centre commissioned CRAM International to analyze its audience. The resulting segments include classical purists, mainstream stalwarts, new modernists and good time noi'ices. The problem for the South Bank Centre is that the segments don't only differ in their musical tastes, but they also dislike each other.

Marketers can sometimes use this alienation profitably. When the marketers of 'ever so nice' Smarties children's confectionery recognized that growing 'pest power' meant that they had to attract children rather than parents, they did it with a vengeance. Not only did Smarties TV advertising become exeiting for children, but the company also tapped into playground cults. The first was 'cool dood' sunglasses, then came the 'gruesome greenies' pouch and the 'zapper', a pocket-sized machine that made noises guaranteed to annoy parents and teachers. Ironically, from the same stable comes the Milky Bar Kid - a squeaky clean nice boy dressed in white whom many parents love bxit who is far from appealing to streetwise kids. The Milky Bar Kid works because it is aimed at parents who buy white chocolate Milky Bar products for their very young children.

Sometimes trying to appeal directly to the tastes of children can backfire. Healthy children's cereal Weetabix had to withdraw a campaign showing its cereal bars dressed as skin-heads who came too close to looking like football hooligans. Lego faced a similar backlash when it promoted its educational toys using an unsavoury Lego character driving a Lego car recklessly. Some parents thought it looked too mueh like joy riding.

This alienation positioning has been used by

& succession of pop musicians. Often their positioning is by behaviour. It is hard to imagine that part of the appeal of the classic 1960s rock bands The Who and the Rolling Stones was their noisy music as well as their wrecking of their instruments and hotel rooms. Even the Beatles were 'mop heads' until the Stones out-alienated them. They followed in the tradition set by such objectionable creatures as Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. Each generation discovers alienation positions, although few went so far as punk bands such as the Sex Pistols.

Sometimes the excitement, youth and energy makes these outsiders attractive to people trying to position themselves. In the 'swinging sixties', the then British prime minister, Harold Wilson, held parties at 10 Downing Street where he could be photographed alongside pop person all ties. Probably the saddest case of this pop positioning was Richard Nixon being photographed with Elvis as part of an anti-drugs campaign. Pop positioning was too good a trick for Britain's new Labour to miss. Soon after gaining power, Tony Blair was photographed with Oasis's Noel Gallagher at a 10 Downing Street pop party. It became one pop position too far at the 1998 Brit music industry awards. While the music industry was helping pop position new Labour, anarchist pop group Chmnbawamba exploited alienation positioning by pouring a bucket of water over John Prescott, deputy prime minister. It is dangerous when positions collide.

SOURCES: David Murray, 'What the audience really wants', Finunciftt Times (29 December 1997), p. 7; Alice Rawsthom 'Ministers may launch fashion policy collection', Financial Times (17 February 1998), p. 1.2.




Thus a consumer might think that the Steuben glass company makes only fine art glass costing gl ,000 and up, when it also makes affordable fine glass starting at around 850.

Finally, companies must avoid confused positioning - that is, leaving buyers with a confused image of Che company. For example. Burger King has struggled confused positioning A positioning error thai leaves consumers with a confused image of tlie company, its product or a brand.

implausible positioning; Making claims that stretch the perception of the buyers too far to be believed.

without success for years to establish a profitable and consistent position. Since 1986, it has undertaken five separate advertising campaigns, with themes ranging from 'Herb the nerd doesn't eat here' and 'This is a Burger King town', to 'The right food for the right times' and 'Sometimes you've got to break the rules'. This barrage of positioning statements has left consumers confused and Burger King with poor sales and profits.22

Implausible positioning occurs when the positioning strategy stretches the perception of the buyers too far, Toyota recognized this when it created the Lexus brand rather than try to stretch its highly respected name into the luxury car market. With the help of Volkswagen. Skoda is very successful in eastern Europe, but it will be many years before many people will accept the product as an alternative to an Audi or Ford. Some market positions, while attracting one group of customers, can alienate others and so backfire, as Marketing Highlight 10.4 tells.

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