Today, the market is full of goods, companies and services, and it is difficult for the consumer to navigate this variety. In order to help him choose a product, marketing positioning is carried out. As a result of this, a certain distinctive property of a product and a service is formed in the consumer’s perception, which helps him make a purchasing decision. Let's talk about what positioning is, how and why it is carried out, what are its types and strategies.
Meeting different objects, a person assigns them peculiar labels by which they can differ: tasty, expensive, functional, etc. This allows people to differentiate objects and phenomena. Marketing is designed to help consumers navigate the world of goods and services. And along the way, the marketer has to think about positioning the product on the market. That is, he must choose a certain niche, a difference that would distinguish a product or service from its competitors. And then the question arises: what is positioning? And this is the marketing task of forming in the consumer perception a certain set of distinctive characteristics of the product, by which it differs from competitors.
Battle for the minds
The concept of "positioning" appeared in 1980, when marketing gurus J. Trout and E. Rice released the book "Positioning. The battle for the minds. " In it, they substantiated this concept of position and described the process of its formation. In their opinion, a position is an image, an idea of a product in the minds of a consumer. Usually this image is built on 1-2 distinctive features. Positioning, respectively, is the process of position formation, it is necessarily associated with orientation to competitors. That is, a position is not an image, but a set of differences from competitors. Here a man comes to the store and sees 4 brands of milk. He knows, ideally, why each is special: one expensive and tasty, another cheap, but also relatively tasty, the third is natural and expensive, the fourth is fashionable. And based on these characteristics and their needs, a person makes a choice. The process of choosing a position and its formation is not as simple as it might seem, it is associated with costs and you need to understand why resources are spent.
Proper targeting of the product allows you to achieve marketing goals, while it performs the following functions:
- allows you to break through the information noise created by competitors in the market;
- promotes memorability and recognition of the goods;
- simplifies the formulation of promotional offers;
- ensures the integrity of marketing communications.
Advantages and disadvantages
"What is positioning and why do I need it?" - the business owner thinks. And it is then necessary that it is the most effective means of extracting maximum profit. This is a major advantage. In addition, positioning allows you to take a leadership position in relation to competitors, which as a result again leads to increased sales. A stable position in the heads of consumers is a guarantee of stable sales, which are not affected by seasonality and other market fluctuations. There are positioning and disadvantages. First of all, this is the high intellectual cost of this process. Secondly, this is a personnel shortage. Where can I find a marketer who can come up with or discover a position that is guaranteed to be profitable? This is a question that has no answer. But with the joint efforts of a team of professionals, the task is solved, and it is worth it to work on it.
The positioning process may differ in working with different products, but in general terms it necessarily includes the following steps:
- analysis of competitors, identification of their strengths, weaknesses, assessment of their products and their positioning;
- analysis of the goods, identifying the most significant attributes and comparing them with the positioning of competitors' products;
- analysis of the target audience, assessment of consumers' perceptions of the attributes of the goods on which the device for positioning competitors is based;
- determination of the current position of a promoted product;
- creating a map of the desired conditions and positions of the goods;
- positioning development and implementation;
- assessment of the effectiveness of embedded positioning.
Targets and goals
Product positioning is necessary in order to differ from competitors. Differentiation in goods-saturated markets is extremely important, because the consumer does not want to delve into the nuances of the differences between similar products, but takes a simple and understandable product. This is a top priority. It is also necessary to determine the position in order to attract the consumer. It is important to shape the image of the product in the perception of the consumer, and this image must be associated with certain product attributes. And it’s not even so important whether the product has these properties in reality. The main thing is that the consumer perceives it in the right way. The objectives of positioning is to influence the perception of the consumer, instill in him the necessary ideas about the product, as well as the formation of clear, easily reproducible characteristics of the product in the minds of consumers.
Positioning and segmentation
The effectiveness and accuracy of positioning depends on how well the target audience for the impact is chosen. Therefore, segmentation is always the flip side of positioning. Segmentation is the process of dividing the consumer market into groups with common characteristics: socio-demographic and psychographic. This process is the first stage of positioning and consists in choosing the target audience that will bring the greatest profit at the lowest cost of communication. Segmentation is necessary in order to concentrate the company's marketing efforts on consumer groups that are most profitable in a given market segmentation. This may not always be the most marginal segment, as competition in these parts of the market is usually high. Segmentation allows you to find target audiences that can bring additional profit due to the fact that competitors did not pay their marketing efforts to these groups. So, for example, once marketers decided to sell razors not only to men, in this segment everything was already crowded with competitors, but also to women. On these segments at that time it was very free. Positioning is based on knowledge of what are the needs and characteristics of the consumer in order to offer him the relevant attributes of the product.
Basic principles of positioning
Marketing is an activity to satisfy the needs of target audiences, but before you start using its tools, you need to conduct a series of studies and make important strategic decisions, which include positioning. What is a strategy? This is the long-term goal of the company, to which it aspires and moves, applying various tactics. To achieve these goals, you must adhere to certain principles. In relation to positioning, they are as follows:
- Sequence. The formation of a position is not a quick process, the main thing here is not to change the chosen direction and not confuse the consumer, saying one thing or the other.
- Simplicity, expressiveness, originality. The position should be quickly understood by the consumer, he will not spend efforts to figure out what the manufacturer wants to tell him. The position must be captured quickly and without stress, while it must be peculiar so that the consumer remembers it.
- All parts of the business, not just marketing communications, should express a chosen position.
Since there are an almost infinite number of goods, a lot of their images were invented. Theorists distinguish the following main positioning:
1. By nature. In this case, positioning can be based on technical innovations, for example, a certain new development is introduced in the product and this immediately sets it apart from competitors. So, TVs based on LED-technologies had a well-remembered position at the beginning of their distribution. Either marketing innovations can be used for positioning, unusual ways of distributing the product, its promotion are thought up.
2. In accordance with the intended purpose. In this case, positioning is used on the basis of a special way of using the product, or its manufacture, on the benefits of its acquisition, on solving any problem. An example of positioning of this type is Head & Shoulders shampoo.
3. Depending on the attitude towards competitors. In this form, positioning is built as opposed to the qualities, characteristics and positions of a competitor. In this case, the attributes are selected according to which the product is superior to competitive products or they are given a different interpretation. An example of positioning with a competitor orientation is Pepsi-Cola, which constantly emphasizes its position as opposed to Coca-Cola.
During the existence of marketing, many positioning strategies have been invented and tested. In the specialized literature you can find a variety of classifications and all of them will be convincing and justified. Since the strategies take into account the specifics of companies, and each time in practice, each of them turns out at least a little, but new. For example, these types of positioning strategies are distinguished:
- based on the best quality of the product;
- based on the benefits that the consumer receives when buying a product;
- based on the principle of problem-solution;
- targeted to a specific target segment;
- based on the separation of goods from a specific product category;
- based on the offset from competitors.
There is a classification according to certain attributes, in this case they talk about price strategies (cheap or expensive), consumer lifestyle, expertise or specialization, innovation, safety, environmental friendliness. And so - to infinity.
Unique selling proposition
The most productive positioning strategy, according to R. Reeves, is the development of a unique selling proposition (USP). It is based on the fact that the product has certain qualities that competitor products do not yet have. For example, chocolate makers M & M'S said that it “melts in the mouth, not in the hands,” and secured this unique position. USP should be reflected in all marketing communications to the consumer. Moreover, it should be significant for the consumer, so that he noticed and remembered it. A unique selling proposition can be natural, that is, the product really has some unique property, or artificial, when such a quality is invented. For example, once marketers of the same brand came up with the idea that there is no cholesterol in vegetable oil, and this has become the UTP of this product. But soon all oil producers began to say this about themselves, and USP lost its strength.
In marketing practice, a whole list of various positioning methods has been formed, they can be divided into the following groups:
- Associative, when the product is associated with any character, situation, subject.
- Against the product category, when the product is removed from the pressure of competitors. So it was with M & M'S, who decided not to fight with other brands of dragees, but to go into the category of chocolate.
- To solve the problem.
- Against a specific competitor. So, Burger King is constantly attacking the McDonald's.
- By target audience, when the product is addressed to a specific segment. For example, cigarettes for women.