Just as segmentation involves the decision to aim at a certain group of customers but not others, our next concept-positioning-involves a decision to stress only certain aspects of our brand, and not others.
The key idea in positioning strategy is that the consumer must have a clear idea of what your brand stands for in the product category, and that a brand cannot be sharply and distinctly positioned if it tries to be everything to everyone.
It is often said that positioning is not what you do to the product, but what you do to the consumer’s mind, through various communications. Many products in the over-the-counter drug market, for instance, have identical formulas but are promoted for different- symptoms, by using different names, packaging, product forms, and advertising?
The strategic objective must be to have segmentation and positioning strategies that fit together: a brand must be positioned in a way that is maximally effective in attracting the desired target segment. A brand’s-position is the set of associations the consumer has with the brand. These may cover physical attributes, or lifestyle, or use occasion, or user image, or stores that carry it.
A brand’s position develops over years, through advertising and publicity and word of mouth and usage experience, and can be sharp or diffuse, depending on the consistency of that brand’s advertising over the years.
A brand’s position in a consumer’s mind is a relative concept, in that it refers to a comparative assessment by the consumer of how this brand is similar to or different from the other brands that compete with it. Think of every consumer as having a mental map of the product category. The location of your brand in that map, relative to that of your competitors, is your position, and the locations of all the brands in that map are determined by the associations that the’ consumer makes with each brand. If all this sounds rather abstract, several examples are provided here which should clarify the concept.
A positioning strategy is vital to provide focus to the development of an advertising campaign. The strategy can be conceived and implemented in a variety of ways that derive from the attributes, competition, specific applications, the types of consumers involved, or the characteristics of the product class.
Each represents a different approach to developing a positioning strategy, even though all of them have the ultimate objective of either developing or reinforcing a particular image for the brand in the mind of the audience.