Service Marketing : Chapter 7
Positioning a Service
in the Marketplace
Jean F. Baylon
BSBA4 – Major in Mktg.-Mgnt
Instructor: Mr. Abelito Quiwa
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 1
Achieve Competitive Advantage through Focus
Four Focus Strategies
Identifying and Selecting Target Segments
Using Research to Develop a Service Concept for a Specific
Important versus Determinant Attributes
Creating a Competitive Position
Copy Positioning Versus Product Positioning
Positioning’s Role in Marketing Strategy
Steps in developing a Positioning Strategy
Using Positioning Maps to Plot Strategy: An Example from the
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 2
By the end of this chapter, students should be able to:
Know the focus strategies that are available to service business
Tell the difference between important and determinant attributes
for consumer choice and positioning services
To know the key concepts underlying competitive positioning
To know when it is appropriate to reposition an existing service
Understand how to develop an effective positioning strategy using
market, internal, and competitor analysis.
Demonstrate how positioning maps help to analyze competitive
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 3
ACHIEVE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH FOCUS
In an industry with low barriers to entry and a lot of competition, Every firm must managed to
find a niche position and diﬀerentiate itself from competition. They linked up with employers instead of
individual parents, emphasized on service quality, and used accreditation as a selling point. As
competition increases in the service sector, service organizations must find ways to stand out from
competitors. Brand positioning can help to create awareness, generate interest and desire among
prospective customers, and increase adoption of products and services. Senior marketing executives
have come to realize that for brands to stand out; they must be carefully created, marketed and
positioned. What this means is that managers need to think carefully about all aspects of the service
package. In addition, they need to emphasize competitive advantage on those attributes that will be
valued by customers in their target segment(s). Competitive advantage can be achieved through focus,
which we will discuss next.
FOUR FOCUS STARTEGIES
The extent of a company’s focus can be described along two dimensions —market focus and
service focus. Market focus is the extent to which a firm serves few or many markets, while service focus
describes the extent to which a firm oﬀers few or many services. These two dimensions dimensions
define the four basic focus strategies shown in Figure 7.1
Figure 7.1 Basic
focus strategies for
Source: Johnston, R. (1996). Achieving
focus in service organizations.The
Service Industries Journal, 16 (January),
Fully focused: A fully focused organization provides a limited range of services (perhaps just a single
core product) to a narrow and specifi c market segment (Figure 7.1). There are both opportunities and
risks to such a strategy. Firms has recognized expertise in a well-defined area, it may provide protection
against would-be competitors, and then the firm can charge high prices. The biggest risk is that the
market may be too small to get the volume of business needed for financial success. Other risks include
the danger that demand for the service may decrease because of alternative products, or that
purchasers in the chosen segment may be affected by an economic downturn.
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 4
Market focused: A market focused company concentrates on a narrow market segment, but has a wide
range of services. Before choosing a market focused strategy, managers need to be sure that their firms
have the operational capability to do an excellent job of delivering each of the different services
selected. They also need to understand customer purchasing practices and preferences.
Service focused: Service focused firms offer a narrow range of services to a fairly broad m arket.
However, as new segments are added, the firm needs to develop knowledge and skills in serving each
segment. This may require a broader sales effort and greater investment in marketing communication.
Unfocused: Finally, many service providers fall into the unfocused category, because they try to serve
broad markets and provide a wide range of services. The danger with this strategy is that unfocused
firms often are “jack of all trades and master of none.”
It is recommended that firms have some sort of focus, whether on market segments or on services.
Firms should not use the unfocused strategy as this will only dilute their efforts and cause them to
spread their resources too thin when they try to do many things at the same time.
IDENTIFYING AND SELECTING TARGET SEGMENTS
A market segment is one where a group of buyers share common characteristics, needs,
purchasing behaviors, or consumption patterns.
Quantifiable population characteristics, such as age,
gender, income, education, family situation.
The physical location or region.
Psychographics Lifestyle, social or personality characteristics.
e.g University Educated,
20-25 year old, Males
e.g Living in New York City
e.g Self assured, confident
The needs and wants of the customer in relation to the e.g Social Activity
product, including expectations and attitudes.
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 5
A target segment is one that a firm has selected, from among those in the broader market, and
defined on the basis of several variables. Target segments should be selected not only on the basis of
their sales and profit potential, but also with reference to the firm’s ability to match or exceed
competing offerings directed at the same segment.
Some market segments provide better sales and profits opportunities than others. But firms
must also look at whether they can match or exceed competing oﬀerings directed at the same segment.
Sometimes, research will show that certain market segments are “underserved.” This means that their
needs are not well met by existing suppliers. Such markets are often surprisingly large.
USING RESEARCH TO DEVELOP A SERVICE FOR A SPECIFIC SEGMENT
Once a target segment has been selected, firms need to provide their market with the right service
concept. How can a firm develop the right service concept for a particular target segment? Research is
often needed to see what attributes of a given service are important to specific market segments.
However, it is dangerous to over-generalize. The importance of attributes may diﬀer for the same
individual according to:
The purpose of using the service.
Who makes the decision.
The timing of use (time of day/week/season).
Whether the individual is using the service alone or with a group.
Who is in the group.
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 6
Think about what determines your choice when choosing a restaurant for lunch, (1) on vacation with
friends or family, (2) meeting with a potential business client, and (3) going for a quick meal with a co worker. Given a reasonable selection of alternatives, it is unlikely that you would choose the same type
of restaurant in each instance, let alone the same one. It is possible too, that if you left the decision to
another person in the party, he or she would end up with a di ﬀerent choice. It is also important to
identify who is making the decision to select a specific service. In some cases, it is single individual. In
others, it may involve a decision-making unit of several participants.
IMPORTANT VERSUS DETERMINANT ATTRIBUTTES
Consumers usually make their choices between alternative service oﬀerings based on the
perceived diﬀerences between them. However, the attributes that diﬀerentiate competing services are
not always the most important ones. For example, “safety” may be considered a very important
attribute in the choice of an airline, but it is not the attribute that buyers base their final decision on
because typically all airlines the buyer considers are likely to be perceived as performing equally well on
safety. Therefore, determinant attributes (i.e. those that actually determine buyers’ choices between
competing alternatives) are often not on the top of the list of service characteristics that are important
for making buying decisions. Rather, consumers focus on attributes that are diﬀerent between
competing alternatives. For example, convenience of departure and arrival times (Figure 7.2), availability
of frequent flyer miles, quality of food and drinks on board might be examples of determinant
characteristics for business travelers when selecting an airline. In contrast, for budget-conscious holidaymakers, price is often a determinant attribute. For a logistics firm, clients with global operations are
likely to look at reach as a determinant attribute. Hence, a company that is able to deliver to far and
remote places will be used over one that cannot.
Figure 7.2 Contiki
targets the young and
fun loving travelers
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 7
In many emerging market economies, there are huge numbers of consumers whose incomes are
too small to attract the interest of service businesses that are used to focusing on the needs of wealthier
customers. Collectively, however, small wage earners are a very big market and may oﬀer even greater
potential for the future as many of them move upwards toward middle class status. Price, for instance,
is a straightforward quantitative measure. For example, it is very diﬀerent to position services targeted
at customers at the bottom of the pyramid. They are the low-income group. When Smart
Communications Inc. wanted to target the low-income people in Philippines, they looked at Proctor and
Gamble for ideas on how to keep product prices low. They found that there are micropacks for items
such as shampoo, soaps, and food at a low-ticket price. Therefore, when Smart Communications Ltd.
launched its mobile service to the low-income group, they oﬀ ered prepaid pricing plans with airtime in
small packages, with prices in small denominations that started from as low as US$0.50. This strategy
was a resounding success and within ten months, revenues exceeded $2 million a day.
CREATING A COMPETITIVE POSITION
Once we have segmented the market, and understood determinant attributes and related service
levels, we need to see how best we can position our service in a competitive market. Competitive
positioning strategy is based on establishing and maintaining a unique place in the market for an
organization and/or its individual product oﬀerings. Eﬀective positioning is based on four principles:
A company must establish a position in the minds of its target customers.
The position should have one simple and consistent message.
The position must set a company apart
from its competitors.
A company cannot be all things to all people—it must focus its eﬀorts.
These principles apply to any type of firm that competes for customers. Understanding the concept
of positioning are the keys to developing an effective competitive posture.
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 8
Example: Safety – a Never Ending Volvo Commitment
1 March, 2011
Volvo, Latin for "I roll", was born on April 14th, 1927
when the first car "Jakob" left the factory in
Gothenburg, Sweden. Founded by Assar Gabrielsson
and Gustaf Larsson, the company was formed on a
background of quality and safety which were both
of paramount importance, a concept that still
applies to the Volvo cars of today.
A tagline in a Volvo ad from the past stated, "every
year is a road safety year at Volvo".
And the safety history of Volvo Car Corporation
proves that this is true. The track record includes
some 75 ground-breaking safety innovations since
the company was founded in 1927. The Volvo Car
Corporation has had a human-based philosophy
already from the start. The founders of Volvo, Assar
Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson, stated: "Cars are
driven by people – the guiding principle behind
everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is and must
remain – safety."
In a presentation entitled ‘Product renewal key to
success in strengthening market’ the new president
and chief executive of Volvo Construction
Equipment, Pat Olney, has used his first speech to
the global press to state that the company is well
positioned to benefit from buoyant markets, thanks
to a massive product renewal program and significant investments in its industrial structure.
To emphasize the point, along with outlining an investment program that runs into hundreds of millions
of dollars, Mr. Olney also highlighted more than 50 innovative new products that are being introduced
in 2011. “It is this combination of reliable, fuel efficient and appropriate products, high production
quality and strong aftermarket support that are customers’ order winning criteria today. With these in
place Mr. Olney said he believed that Volvo CE was ‘particularly well positioned’ to capitalize on the
continued growth in the major markets.
Volvo Construction Equipment, the third largest manufacturer in the industry, has enjoyed strong
growth in recent quarters. In the three months January to March 2011 the company’s sales increased by
53% (SEK 15,759 M) and profitability by 70% (SEK 1,708 M). In addition, the first quarter also saw Volvo
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 9
become the market leader in wheel loaders and excavators in China – by far the world’s largest
construction equipment market. The company has also introduced in recent months a wi despread
product renewal program, with the introduction of Tier 4i/Stage IIIB emission compliant machines that
not only emit lower emissions but offer higher productivity and improved fuel economy.
“In addition to developing fuel efficient products, we wil l continue to capitalize on our strong position in
Europe and North America, while at the same time expanding our industrial footprint in the BRIC
markets,” concluded Mr. Olney. “It’s good to remember that we remain in a cyclical industry – so we will
also concentrate on maintaining a high level of flexibility in the production system.”
Example : Service Perspective : Unintended Consequences
of Positioning at Jollibee
Jollibee, a home-grown chain. It competes heads-on against some of the most prominent names in fastfood retailing, including McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. And it has been successful; Jollibee is estimated to
have cornered over 40% of the Filipino fast-food sector. How did Jollibee do it?
Right from the start, the founders decided that the tastes of typical hamburgers provided by the major
chains would not appeal to the Filipino taste buds. They developed their own sweeter and spicier-tasting
versions of hamburgers, fried chicken and spaghetti. Unique products include the “honey beef rice” and
“palabok fiesta” (Filipino pasta). Instead of offering apple pie as the dessert, Jollibee provides the peach
mango pie and banana langka pie.
Jollibee has also ventured beyond its national borders and now has operations in countries with a
significant Filipino presence, with a total of 25 stores. They include operations in Guam, Brunei, Hong
Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Middle East and the United States. Its key strength lies in understanding the
local taste and is willing to adapt its product offerings accordingly. For example, when it entered in
Brunei, Jollibee renamed its hamburgers “beef-burgers”. As Brunei is a Muslim country, Jollibee wanted
to avoid the misperception that its burgers contained pork, which is forbidden to Muslims. It also served
“nasi lemak” in Malaysia and Brunei, a rice dish cooked in coconut milk, which is familiar to the people
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 10
Source: M. Justin, “Jollibee Shrugs off Asia Setback,”
Financial Times, February 16, 1998.
COPY POSITIONING VERSUS PRODUCT POSITIONING
Positioning is a marketing concept that outlines what a business should do to market its product
or service to its customers. In positioning, the marketing department creates an image for the product
based on its intended audience. This is created through the use of promotion, price, place and product.
The more intense a positioning strategy, typically the more effective the marketing strategy is for a
company. A good positioning strategy elevates the marketing efforts and helps a buyer move from
knowledge of a product or service to its purchase.
POSITIONING’S ROLE IN MARKETING STRATEGY
Positioning plays a pivotal role in marketing strategy, because it links market analysis and
competitive analysis with internal corporate analysis. Positioning is a marketing concept that outlines
what a business should do to market its product or service to its customers. In positioning, the
marketing department creates an image for the product based on its intended audience . This is created
through the use of promotion, price, place and product. The more intense a positioning strategy,
typically the more effective the marketing strategy is for a company. A good positioning strategy
elevates the marketing efforts and helps a buyer move from knowledge of a product or service to its
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 11
Principal uses of positioning in marketing management
1. Provide useful diagnostic tool for defining and understanding the relationships between products
- How does the product compare with competitive offerings on specific attributes?
- How well does product performance meet consumer needs and expectations on specific
- What is the predicted consumption level for a product with a given set of performance
characteristics offered at a given price?
2. Identify market opportunities for:
a. Introducing new products:
- What segments to target?
- What attributes to offer relative to the competition?
b. Redesigning (repositioning) existing products:
- Appeal to the same segments or to new ones?
- What attributes to add, drop or change?
- What attributes to emphasize in advertising?
c. Eliminate products that:
- Do not satisfy consumer needs;
- Face excessive competition.
3. Making other marketing mix decisions to pre-empt, or respond to, competitive moves:
a. Distribution strategies:
- Where to offer the product (locations, types of outlet)?
- When to make the product available?
b. Pricing strategies:
- How much to charge?
- What billing and payment procedures to employ?
c. Communication strategies
- What target audience(s) are most easily convinced that the product offers a competitive advantage
on attributes that are important to them?
- What message(s)? Which attributes should be emphasized and which competitors – if any – should
be mentioned as the basis for comparison on those attributes?
- Which communication channels – personal selling versus different advertising media? (Selected not
only for their ability to convey the chosen message(s) to the target audience(s), but also for their
ability to reinforce the desired image of the product).
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 12
STEPS IN DEVELOPING A POSITIONING STRATEGY
These principles apply to any type of firm that competes for customers.
The focus is on the overall level and trend of demand, and the geographic location of this
demand. Is demand increasing or decreasing for the benefits oﬀered by this type of service? Are there
regional or international variations in the
level of demand? Are there other ways of
segmenting the market? The size and
potential of diﬀerent market segments should
also be looked into. Research may be needed
to gain a better understanding not only of
customer needs and preferences within each
of the diﬀerent segments, but also of how
each perceives the competition.
Internal Corporate Analysis
The objective is to identify the
organization’s resources (financial, human
labor and know-how, and physical assets),
limitations, its goals (profitability, growth,
professional preferences, etc.), and how its values shape the way it does business. Using insights from
this analysis, management should be able to select a limited number of target market segments which
can be served with either new or existing services.
Analysis of competitors helps firms to understand the strengths and weaknesse s competitors
have. This may in turn suggest opportunities for differentiation. Relating these insights back to the
internal corporate analysis should suggest what might be possible opportunities for differentiation and
competitive advantage. This will help managers to decide which benefits should be emphasized to which
target segments. This analysis should consider both direct and indirect competition.
Before deciding on a specific positioning, management should also anticipate responses to
potential positioning strategies. For example, one needs to consider the possibility that one or more
competitors might go after the same market position. Perhaps another service organization has
independently conducted the same positioning analysis and arrived at similar conclusions? The best way
to anticipate possible competitive responses is to identify all current or potential competitors, and to
put oneself in their own management’s shoes. An internal corporate analysis should be done for each of
these competitors.7 If chances seem high that a stronger competitor will move to occupy the same
position with a better service concept, then it would be wise to reconsider the positionin g strategy.
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 13
The outcome of the three forms of analysis is a statement that states the desired position of the
organization in the marketplace. With this understanding, marketers can now develop a specific plan of
Positions are rarely static. They need to evolve over
time in response to changing market structures, technology.
Competitive activity and evolution of the firm itself. Many
types of businesses lend themselves to evolutionary re positioning by adding or deleting services and target segments.
Some companies have shrunk their offerings in the expectation
of increasing sales to existing customers and attracting new
ones. Thus, petrol stations have added small retail stores
offering extended hours of service, while supermarkets and
other retail stores have added banking services. New
development of technology provide many opportunities for
introducing not only new services, but also new delivery
systems for existing products.
Innovation in Positioning
When we think about strategy, we often think about
positioning our products and services, but that approach is too
simplistic. To be truly competitive, companies need to think
not just about what they produce, but what they know and
how they plan to innovate as well. Strategy must include
thinking about these three positions: first, product and market;
second, knowledge; third, innovation. And as the competitive
landscape changes, organizations must continually realign
USING POSITIONING MAPS T0 PLOT STRATEGY: An Example
from the Hotel Industry
Positioning maps are great tools to visualize
competitive positioning, to map developments over time, and
to develop scenarios of potential competitor responses.
Developing a positioning “map”—a task sometimes referred to as perceptual mapping—is a useful way
of showing consumers’ perceptions of alternative products graphically. A map usually has two
attributes, although three-dimensional models can be used to portray three of these attributes. When
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 14
more than three dimensions are needed to describe
product performance in a given market, then a series of
separate charts need to be drawn.
An Example of Applying
Positioning Maps to the Hotel
The hotel business is highly competitive,
especially during seasons when the supply of rooms
exceeds demand. Within each class of hotels, customers
visiting a large city may find that they have several
options to choose from. Some customers may choose
the degree of luxury and comfort; some may choose
attributes such as location, safety, cleanliness, and
special rewards programs for frequent guests.
Let us look at an example of how to apply
positioning maps, based on a real-world situation.
Managers of the Palace, a successful four-star hotel,
developed a positioning map of their own and
competing hotels. This helped them to develop a better
understanding of future threats to their current market
position, in a large city that we will call Belleville.
Located on the edge of the financial district, the
Palace was an elegant old hotel that had been
renovated to a great extent and modernized a few years
earlier. Its competitors included eight 4-star
establishments, and the Grand, one of the city’s oldest
hotels, which had a 5-star rating. The Palace has been
very profitable in recent years, and has an above
average occupancy rate. For many months of the year, it was sold out on weekdays. This shows that it
was popular with business travelers. These business travelers were very attractive to the hotel,
because of their willingness to pay a higher room rate than tourists or conference delegates. However,
the general manager and his staﬀ saw problems ahead. Planning permission had recently been granted
for four large new hotels in the city, and the Grand had just started a major renovation and expansion
project, which included construction of a new wing. There was a risk that customers might see the
Palace as falling behind.
To understand better the nature of the competitive threat, the hotel’s management team
worked with a consultant to prepare charts that displayed the Palace’s position in the business traveler
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 15
market both before and after the entrance of new competition. Four attributes were selected for
study: room price, level of personal service, level of physical luxury, and location.
Management did not conduct new consumer research. Instead, they got their customer perception data
from various sources:
Data from past surveys.
Reports from travel agents and knowledgeable hotel staﬀ members who mixed frequently with
Information on competing hotels was not diﬃcult to obtain, since the locations were known.
Information was obtained through following ways:
Visiting and evaluated physical structures.
Sales staﬀ kept themselves informed on pricing policies and discounts.
For service level, they used the ratio of rooms per employee, easily calculated from the
published number of rooms and employment data provided to the city authorities.
Data from surveys of travel agents conducted by the Palace provided additional insights on the
quality of personal service at each competitor.
Scales were then created for each attribute:
Price was simple. The average price charged to business travelers for a standard single room at
each hotel was already quantified.
The room per employee ratio was the basis for a service level scale, with low ratios being
equated with high service. This scale was then changed slightly because of what was known
about the quality of service actually delivered by each major competitor.
Level of physical luxury was more subjective. The management team identified the hotel that
members agreed was the most luxurious (the Grand) and then the four-star hotel that they
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 16
viewed as having the least luxurious physical facilities (the Airport Plaza). All other 4-star hotels
were then rated on this attribute relative to these two benchmarks.
Location was defined using the stock exchange building in the heart of the financial district as a
reference point. Past research had shown that majority of the Palace’s business guests were
visiting destinations in this area. The competitive set of ten hotels lay within a four-mile, fanshaped radius, extending from the exchange through the city’s main retail area (where the
convention center was also located) to the inner suburbs and the nearby airport.
Two positioning maps were created to portray the existing competitive situation. The first (Figure
7.3) showed the ten hotels on the dimensions of price and service level; the second (Figure 7.4)
displayed them on location and degree of physical luxury.
Some findings were intuitive, but others provided valuable insights.
A quick glance at Figure 7.3 shows a clear correlation between the attributes of price and
service. Hotels oﬀering higher levels of service are relatively more expensive. The shaded bar
running from the upper left to the lower right high-lights this relationship.
Further analysis shows that there appear to be three groups of hotels within what is already an
upscale market category. At the top end, the 4-star Regency is close to the 5-star Grand. In the
middle, the Palace is grouped with four other hotels, and at the lower end, there is another
group of three hotels.
One surprising insight from this map is that the Palace appears to be charging quite a lot more
(on a relative basis) than its service level would seem to justify. Since its occupancy rate is very
high, guests are evidently willing to pay the going rate.
In Figure 7.4, we see how the Palace is positioned relative to the competition on location and
degree of luxury. We would not expect these two variables to be related and they do not appear
to be so.
A key insight here is that the Palace occupies a relatively empty portion of the map. It is the only
hotel in the financial district. This probably explains its ability to charge more than its service
level (or degree of physical luxury) would seem to justify.
There are two groups of hotels in the vicinity of the shopping district and convention center
(Figure 7.5). They are a relatively luxurious group of three, led by the Grand, and a second group
of two oﬀering a moderate level of luxury.
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 17
Figure 7.3 Positioning map of Belleville’s
principal business hotels: Service Level
versus Price Level
Figure 7.4 Positioning map of Belleville’s principal business hotels:
Positioning map of Location versus Physical Luxury
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 18
Figure 7.5 Positioning map of Belleville’s principal business hotels,
Following New Construction: Service Level versus Price Leve l.
Figure 7.6 Positioning map of Belleville’s principal business hotels
after New Construction: Location versus Physical Luxury
Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace 19
Most service businesses face strong and often increasing competition.
Marketers need to find ways of creating meaningful competitive
advantages for their products. Ideally, they should be targeting
segments that they can serve better than other providers. The concept
of positioning is valuable because it forces explicit recognition of the
different attributes comprising the overall service concept. It also
emphasizes the need for marketers to understand which attributes
determine customer choice behavior. Positioning maps provide a
visual way of summarizing research data and displaying how different
firms are performing, relative to one another, on key attributes.
Combined with information on the preferences within different
segments – including the anticipated demand from such segments –
positioning maps may suggest opportunities for creating new services
or re-positioning existing ones to take advantage of unserved market
needs. If offering such a service is seen as compatible with the
organization’s resources and values, the firm may be able to develop a
profitable niche for itself in the market.
Service Marketing - Chapter 7 : Positioning a Service in the Marketplace
M. Justin, “Jollibee Shrugs off Asia Setback,” Financial Times, February