What is Positioning?

Positioning: General Marketing Explained

Positioning is a fundamental concept in the field of marketing. It refers to the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. The concept is integral to the communication of a product’s or brand’s value proposition, which explains how a product fills a consumer’s need in ways that its competitors do not.

Positioning is not about creating a product. It is about controlling the narrative about the product within the customers’ mind, retying the connections that already exist. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into position, its importance, strategies, and more.

Understanding Positioning

Positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position relative to competing brands in the mind of the customer. Companies apply the strategy either by emphasizing the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.), or they may also try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious) through advertising.

Once a brand is positioned, it is challenging to reposition it without destroying its credibility. It is also called product position. Positioning is often used nowadays as a broad synonym for marketing strategy, but it is a part of the marketing strategy, and the terms are not interchangeable.

Importance

Positioning is crucial, and with more and more products and services fighting for the consumer’s attention, it is more important than ever for brands to stand out. It allows a brand to differentiate itself from its competitors and to communicate its unique value proposition to its target audience.

Positioning helps in guiding marketing and promotional strategies. A well-positioned brand will have a clear, unique, and advantageous place in the minds of consumers for the product or service, which helps in driving the marketing and promotional strategy for the brand.

Components of Positioning

Positioning involves various components, including the target market, the product or service category, the unique selling proposition (USP), and the competitive frame of reference. The target market is the group of consumers the brand aims to reach. The product or service category is the market in which the brand competes. The USP is what makes the brand unique and different from its competitors. The competitive frame of reference is the other brands against which the brand is compared.

Each of these components plays a crucial role in the position of a brand. The target market and the product or service category determine where the brand competes, while the USP and the competitive frame of reference determine how the brand competes.

A visual representation of Positioning Strategies tailored to embody the concept within the digital marketing theme. This image integrates strategic market positioning elements, including chess pieces for strategic moves, diverging and converging paths for market segmentation and targeting, and a compass or beacon symbolizing direction and focus, all set against a warm, inviting background.

Strategies

There are numerous positioning strategies that a brand can adopt. These strategies can be broadly categorized into six types: attribute or benefit, quality and price, use or application, product user, product class, and competitor. Each strategy involves a brand position based on a different aspect of the product or the market.

For example, a brand might position itself based on a specific attribute or benefit of the product. Alternatively, a brand might position itself based on the quality and price of the product, emphasizing either its high quality or low price. A brand might also position itself based on a specific use or application of the product, a particular type of product user, a specific product class, or a specific competitor.

Attribute or Benefit Positioning

Attribute or benefit positioning is a strategy where the company positions itself as having specific attributes or benefits that are important to the consumer. Attributes and benefits could be anything from being the most durable, the fastest, the cheapest, the easiest to use, or any other attribute that the company believes will be important to the consumer.

A positioning strategy like this is often used when a product has a unique feature or benefit that sets it apart from the competition. For example, a car manufacturer may position its vehicle as being the most fuel-efficient in its class.

Quality and Price Positioning

Quality and price positioning is a strategy where the company positions its product as offering the best quality for the price. Used by companies that offer a high-quality product at a mid-range price, the goal is to convince consumers they are getting a high-quality product without paying a premium price.

Quality and price positioning strategies are often used by companies that want to compete with high-end brands but do not want to price their products out of reach of the average consumer. For example, a smartphone manufacturer may position its phone as offering the same high-quality features as a more expensive brand but at a more affordable price.

Positioning and the Marketing Mix

The marketing mix, also known as the 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion), plays a crucial role in a brand’s position. The product, its price, the places where it is sold, and the way it is promoted all contribute to the brand’s position in the market.

For example, a high-quality product, priced appropriately, sold in premium outlets, and promoted as a luxury brand will be positioned differently than a low-cost product, sold in discount stores, and promoted as a value brand. Thus, the marketing mix is an important tool in a brand’s position.

Product and Position

The product is a key component of a brand’s position in the market. The features and benefits of the product, its design, its quality, and its brand name all contribute to the product’s position. For example, a product with unique features or benefits, a distinctive design, high quality, and a well-known brand name will be positioned as a premium product.

On the other hand, a product with basic features and benefits, a simple design, average quality, and a lesser-known brand name will be positioned as a value product. Thus, the product plays a crucial role in the position of a brand.

Digital artwork of a woman in the forefront pointing to a relatively enormous monitor displaying a smiley, sad face, and neutral face as indications of the results of product positioning.

Price and Positioning

The price of a product also plays a key role in its positioning. A high price can position a product as a premium or luxury product, while a low price can position a product as a value or budget product. The price of a product communicates its perceived value to the consumer.

For example, a high-priced product is often perceived as being of high quality, while a low-priced product is often perceived as being of lower quality. Thus, the price of a product is a critical factor in its positioning.

Positioning Statement

A positioning statement is a brief description of a product or service and its target market and how the product or service fills a particular need of the target market. It’s meant to be an internal tool to align marketing efforts with the brand and value proposition.

A positioning statement helps a company identify the key benefits of its product and why it’s superior to competitors’ offerings. It also helps a company focus its marketing strategy on its product’s unique features and benefits.

Elements of a Positioning Statement

A positioning statement typically includes four elements: the target audience, the category in which the brand exists, the unique benefit or point of difference, and the reason to believe the brand’s claim. The target audience is the specific group of consumers the brand is trying to reach. The category is the market in which the brand competes.

The unique benefit or point of difference is what makes the brand unique and different from its competitors. The reason to believe is the evidence that supports the brand’s claim. Together, these elements form a clear and concise statement that communicates the brand’s unique value proposition.

Creating a Positioning Statement

Creating a positioning statement involves identifying the target audience, the category, the unique benefit or point of difference, and the reason to believe. It requires a deep understanding of the brand, the market, and the consumer. It also requires a clear and concise writing style.

Once the positioning statement is created, it should be used as a guide for all marketing efforts. It should be the foundation for the brand’s marketing strategy, guiding the development of the marketing mix and the marketing communication strategy.

Repositioning

Repositioning involves changing the position of a brand in the mind of the consumer. This can be necessary when a brand’s position in the market is no longer competitive or when the market has evolved, and the brand’s position is no longer relevant. Repositioning can involve changing any or all of the components of the brand’s position, including the target market, the product or service category, the unique selling proposition, and the competitive frame of reference.

Repositioning is a challenging and risky process. It requires a deep understanding of the brand, the market, and the consumer. It also requires a clear and compelling communication strategy to change the consumer’s perception of the brand. When done successfully, repositioning can revitalize a brand and improve its competitive position.

Digital artwork of blocks that vertically spell the word rebrand, being stacked by a man on a ladder, and a flying man wearing a cape.

Reasons for Repositioning

There are several reasons why a company might choose to reposition a brand. One of the most common reasons is a change in the competitive landscape. If a brand’s competitors have changed their positions or if new competitors have entered the market, it may be necessary for the brand to change its position to remain competitive.

Another common reason for repositioning is a change in the market. If the market has evolved and the brand’s position is no longer relevant, it may be necessary for the brand to change its position to align with the new market conditions. Other reasons for repositioning can include a change in the brand’s target audience, a change in the brand’s product or service category, or a change in the brand’s unique selling proposition.

Challenges of Repositioning

Repositioning a brand can be a challenging and risky process. One of the biggest challenges is changing the consumer’s perception of the brand, which requires a clear and compelling communication strategy. It also requires consistency and persistence, as it can take time for the consumer’s perception to change.

Another challenge of repositioning is the risk of alienating the brand’s existing customers. If the brand’s new position is too different from its old position, it may confuse or disappoint the brand’s existing customers. Confusion and disappointment can result in a loss of customer loyalty and decreased sales, therefore, a brand needs to consider and plan its repositioning strategy carefully.

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