Positioning in target market - Marketing Strategy

Having selected a target market or markets the organization then has to decide on what basis it will compete in the chosen segment or segments. How best can it combine its assets and competencies to create a distinctive offering in the market? This has to be done in such a way that consumers can allocate a specific position to the company’s product or service within the market, relative to other products. Consumers have to cope with a huge amount of product information. Consumers will position a product in their mind in relation to other products on the market based on their perception of the key attributes it contains. Consumers will see the key attributes of Volvo as safety and durability. BMW’s main attributes are based on performance, hence the ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ advertising slogan. When consumers consider the car market these two companies’ products will be positioned relative to each other based on these perceptions. Companies can attempt to associate various qualities with their product as a way to help shape consumers’ perceptions of their position in the market. A brand can be positioned using a range of associations(Kotler et al., 1996):

  • Product attributes :Heinz positions it product son the attributes of no artificial colouring, flavouring or preservatives
  • Product benefits :Volvo positions itself using the product benefits of safety and durability.
  • Usage occasions :The convenience store SPAReight-till-late shops are positioned on the usage occasion. Customers use the shops when they need to shop out of normal hours or near to their homes. KitKat (‘Have a break, have a Kit Kat’) links the brand to tea and coffee breaks in the UK market.
  • Users :Eco cover cleaning products are positioned as environmentally friendly products for the green customer.
  • Activities :Lucozade is positioned as an isotonic drink for sporting activities.
  • Personality :Harley Davidson motorbikes are positioned as a macho product with a free spirit.
  • Origin :Audi clearly illustrates its German origins in the UK market by the use of the ‘Vorsprung durch technik’slogan. The hope is that the product will be linked to the German reputationfor quality engineering.
  • Competitors :Pepsi-Cola is positioned asthe choice of the next generation reflecting the fact that in blind tastingtests younger people preferred Pepsi over competitors’ offerings.
  • Product class :Kellogg’s Nutrigrain bars are positioned as ‘morning bars’, a substitute for the traditional breakfast.
  • Symbol :Esso petrol has used the symbol of the tiger to position itself in the market.

These are the various ingredients that can be used by an organization endeavoring to influence consumers’ perceptions of the product offering. Companies have to decide which of these they can use and, more importantly, how they wish to position their product in the market vis-`a-vis the competing options.

Four factors are of critical importance for successful positioning :

  • Credence :The attributes used to position the product have to be perceived to be credible by the target customers. It would be very difficult for a nuclear power generator to position itself as environmentally friendly.
  • Competitiveness :The product should offer the consumer benefits which competitors are not supplying. Clairol launched a new shampoo,Herbal Essences, in the USA in 1995 which emphasized the brand’s wholesome ingredients. By 1997 this was the fastest growing brand on the market and ranked number two behind Pantene.
  • Consistency :A consistent message overtime is invaluable in helping to establish a position against all the other products and services fighting for a share of the market. An organization that changes its positioning on a regular basis causes confusion in the consumer’s mind.This will mean they have an unclear perception of exactly what are the key characteristics of the product.
  • Clarity :The positioning statement an organization chooses has to create a clearly differentiated position for the product in the minds of the target market. A distinct message such as ‘Bread wi’ No wt Taken Out’ underlines the wholemeal old-world nature of Allison’s bread.


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