What is positioning in marketing, and why should it matter to you? More importantly, how will marketing positioning affect the success of your business?
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the concept of positioning, how to develop a market positioning strategy, and share examples of successful brand positioning efforts.
- Positioning in marketing is the process of creating an image and perception of your brand, product, or service in customers’ minds.
- There are four main types of positioning strategies: product attributes and benefits, price and quality, use or application, and competitor comparison.
- The positioning process involves identifying the target market, analyzing competitors, developing a unique value proposition, and creating a positioning statement.
- Implementing a positioning and marketing strategy requires aligning marketing efforts, communicating the positioning to internal teams, and evaluating and adjusting the positioning strategy.
- Potential challenges and pitfalls in positioning include market repositioning and overcoming pre-existing brand perceptions.
Marketing Positioning Definition
Market positioning refers to the process of establishing a unique image and perception of your brand, product, or service in the minds of your target audience.
It’s the foundation of your marketing strategy and determines how consumers perceive your brand in relation to your competitors.
A well-thought-out strategy sets the stage for your marketing efforts and helps you communicate your brand’s unique identity and value proposition to potential customers. Market positioning also allows you to differentiate yourself from competitors, connect with your target audience, and drive sales.
Types of Marketing Positioning Strategies
There are four main types of positioning strategies and market positioning techniques.
Let’s take a closer look at each type of marketing positioning strategy below and discuss a few ways to implement them successfully.
Product Attributes and Benefits
One common market positioning method is to focus on the unique features or advantages of your product or service. This could be a specific function, technology, design element, or any other unique selling point that sets your products apart from the competition.
For example, a car company might position its electric vehicle as having the most extended range and fastest charging time on the market. This sets it apart from other car companies for consumers who find these attributes especially valuable.
Price and Quality
Another approach to positioning is to emphasize the relationship between price and quality. Brands can position themselves as offering the best value for money, the highest quality materials or ingredients, or a luxury status symbol with a premium price tag. This is also referred to as brand positioning.
For instance, a fashionable athletic wear brand might highlight its use of top-performing sports apparel materials at a competitive price. This strategically positions the business as a high-quality yet affordable option for fitness enthusiasts.
Use or Application
Some brands choose a market positioning method that situates their products around a specific use case or application of their product or service. By catering to a particular niche market or customer need, these brands create a strong connection with their target audience.
For example, consider a leading energy drink company that targets extreme sports enthusiasts by positioning its product as the go-to source of energy and focus for adrenaline-fueled activities.
Another method involves positioning your brand by comparing it to competitors. By doing so, you can highlight key differences to effectively set your product apart from the rest.
This approach involves showcasing the unique benefits or features that your product or service offers compared to rival options on the market. It can be particularly useful if you’re entering a particularly crowded market, as it helps you differentiate yourself from other established players.
One example of competitor comparison includes a new online retailer that emphasizes its extensive product assortment and fast shipping times. This strategy works when the new online retailer is entering a market that other online retailers dominate.
The Marketing Positioning Process
There are several key steps you need to follow to create an effective market positioning strategy. Let’s look at the strategic process of positioning in marketing to promote a brand, product, or service.
Identifying the Target Market
It’s important to understand your target audience when developing a successful positioning strategy. You need to know who your ideal customers are — their needs and preferences and the motivations that drive their buying decisions.
Market segmentation helps you divide your target market into smaller segments based on specific characteristics, including demographics, psychographics, and behavioral patterns.
This enables you to tailor your market positioning efforts to resonate with each segment, which increases your chances of attracting and retaining customers.
Once you’ve defined your target market, it’s essential that you understand the competitive landscape. Conduct a thorough competitor analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of other brands in your industry, pinpoint gaps in the market, and assess your unique advantages.
One useful tool for analyzing competitors is a perceptual map (or positioning map). A perceptual map plots brands on a two-dimensional grid based on attributes that are important to customers. This visual representation helps you to determine how your brand compares to others on the market. It also allows you to identify potential opportunities for differentiation.
Developing a Unique Value Proposition
A strong value proposition is at the heart of a successful market positioning technique. Your value proposition is a clear statement that explains why customers should choose your product or service over competitors.
Creating effective positioning statements requires a deep understanding of your brand, target audience, and market.
Your value proposition should highlight the unique benefits, features, or experiences your brand offers and align with your target audience’s needs and preferences. When crafting your value proposition, consider your brand’s mission and core values and how you want potential customers to perceive your brand on the market.
Creating a Positioning Statement
A positioning statement is a concise expression of your brand’s unique position in the market. Your positioning statement summarizes your value proposition, target market, and key differentiators that set you apart from the competition.
An effective positioning statement should be clear, compelling, and easy to understand for both internal teams and external audiences. It should also serve as the foundation for your marketing messages and help guide your marketing strategies and tactics.
Implementing a Positioning Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve defined your market positioning strategy, it’s time to put your strategy into action. Here are some key considerations for implementing your strategy successfully:
Aligning Marketing Efforts
Your marketing activities should consistently reinforce your strategy for market positioning. This includes advertising and promotional campaigns, content marketing, social media, and public relations.
Tailoring your marketing messages and tactics to resonate with your target audience will improve your chances of attracting and converting customers.
Communicating the Positioning to Internal Teams
For your strategy to be successful, you need to make sure all internal teams are aligned and on board. This requires you to communicate your positioning statement clearly to all employees, provide training and resources to help them understand and embrace the market positioning, and set expectations for how all aspects of the business should consistently reflect the positioning.
Evaluating and Adjusting the Positioning Strategy
Market conditions, consumer preferences, and competitive dynamics can change over time, so you need to regularly review and update your market positioning strategy. This will ensure it remains relevant and effective.
Evaluating and adjusting might involve refining your value proposition, adapting your marketing efforts, or even considering market repositioning to address new opportunities or challenges. Regular customer feedback and market research can also be invaluable in guiding adjustments to your positioning strategy.
Examples of Successful Positioning Strategies
Let’s look at some examples of brands that have successfully positioned themselves in the market. They serve as excellent examples of positioning in marketing that work across a variety of industries.
Apple’s positioning focuses on design, innovation, and user experience. The company’s marketing strategies include consistent messaging around ease of use, sleek aesthetics, and cutting-edge technology. These elements have helped it become a market leader in consumer electronics. Apple’s brand positioning is clear, and it sets the company apart from other brands in the industry.
Volvo has long positioned itself as the auto industry’s safety leader. The business successfully appeals to customers who prioritize their well-being and that of their families with their brand positioning strategy. This strong focus on safety has become synonymous with the brand and sets it apart from competitors.
Lululemon built its brand around fashionable, high-quality athletic wear for yoga and other activities. The company’s positioning emphasizes both style and functionality, which allows it to appeal to a target audience that values aesthetics and performance in its workout gear. Because of its unique strategy in market positioning, Lululemon has carved out a space that’s distinctly its own in a market saturated with similar products.
Challenges and Pitfalls in Positioning
Positioning a brand, product, or service in the market can be challenging. That’s why it’s so important to focus on your positioning so your business can stand out among others that sell similar products. When positioning your brand, it’s important to watch out for possible problems along the way.
Here are some potential pitfalls and challenges to be aware of when developing and implementing a positioning strategy.
In some cases, a brand may need to undergo market repositioning in response to changing market conditions and evolving customer preferences.
Market repositioning involves altering the brand’s positioning, which can be a complex and risky process. However, if you execute it effectively, repositioning can help your brand stay relevant and competitive in changing environments. It just takes a little extra effort and finesse.
Overcoming Pre-Existing Brand Perceptions
Changing consumer perceptions of an established brand can be challenging, particularly if the existing brand perception is deeply rooted or negative. Fortunately, it is possible to sway already high brand awareness with a little positioning — and a lot of work.
Overcoming pre-existing negative perceptions requires sustained effort and a well-planned strategy. If you implement it successfully, you can reposition the brand and change consumer attitudes. Ways to help customers overcome pre-existing brand perceptions include providing clear evidence of change, demonstrating a commitment to the new positioning, and communicating consistently with customers.
Marketing positioning is essential to helping you stand out. Knowing the answer to the question “What is positioning in marketing?” is a crucial step toward building a strong brand identity, differentiating yourself from competitors, and connecting with your target audience.
By understanding the key concepts of positioning, implementing a well-thought-out positioning strategy, and regularly reviewing and updating your approach, you can help your brand stand out in the market and achieve lasting success.
Barbara Lawson is a marketing writer with over ten years of experience teaching marketing at a university level. Her content is backed by extensive research, and her expertise in the field is invaluable. Living in the beautiful city of Burlington, Vermont, Barbara enjoys practicing yoga to stay centered and focused.