As Popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout
In their 1981 book, Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout
describe how positioning is used as a communication tool to reach target customers in a
crowded marketplace. Regular use of the term dates back to 1972 when the same authors
published a series of articles in Advertising Age called "The Positioning Era." Not long
thereafter, Madison Avenue advertising executives began to develop positioning slogans
for their clients and positioning became a key aspect of marketing communications.
Positioning: The Battle for your Mind has become a classic in the field of marketing.
The following is a summary of the key points made by Ries and Trout in their book.
Ries and Trout explain that while positioning begins with a product, the concept really is
about positioning that product in the mind of the customer. This approach is needed
because consumers are bombarded with a continuous stream of advertising, with
advertisers spending several hundred dollars annually per consumer in the U.S. The
consumer's mind reacts to this high volume of advertising by accepting only what is
consistent with prior knowledge or experience.
It is quite difficult to change a consumer's impression once it is formed. Consumers cope
with information overload by oversimplifying and are likely to shut out anything
inconsistent with their knowledge and experience. In an over-communicated
environment, the advertiser should present a simplified message and make that message
consistent with what the consumer already believes by focusing on the perceptions of the
consumer rather than on the reality of the product.
Getting Into the Mind of the Consumer
The easiest way of getting into someone's mind is to be first. It is very easy to remember
who is first, and much more difficult to remember who is second. Even if the second
entrant offers a better product, the first mover has a large advantage that can make up for
However, all is not lost for products that are not the first. By being the first to claim a
unique position in the mind the consumer, a firm effectively can cut through the noise
level of other products. For example, Miller Lite was not the first light beer, but it was the
first to be positioned as a light beer, complete with a name to support that position.
Similarly, Lowenbrau was the most popular German beer sold in America, but Beck's
Beer successfully carved a unique position using the advertising,
"You've tasted the German beer that's the most popular in America. Now
taste the German beer that's the most popular in Germany."
Consumers rank brands in their minds. If a brand is not number one, then to be successful
it somehow must relate itself to the number one brand. A campaign that pretends that the
market leader does not exist is likely to fail. Avis tried unsuccessfully for years to win
customers, pretending that the number one Hertz did not exist. Finally, it began using the
"Avis in only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder."
After launching the campaign, Avis quickly became profitable. Whether Avis actually
tried harder was not particularly relevant to their success. Rather, consumers finally were
able to relate Avis to Hertz, which was number one in their minds.
Another example is that of the soft-drink 7-Up, which was No. 3 behind Coke and Pepsi.
By relating itself to Coke and Pepsi as the "Uncola", 7-Up was able to establish itself in
the mind of the consumer as a desirable alternative to the standard colas.
When there is a clear market leader in the mind of the consumer, it can be nearly
impossible to displace the leader, especially in the short-term. On the other hand, a firm
usually can find a way to position itself in relation to the market leader so that it can
increase its market share. It usually is a mistake, however, to challenge the leader head-
on and try to displace it.
Positioning of a Leader
Historically, the top three brands in a product category occupy market share in a ratio of
4:2:1. That is, the number one brand has twice the market share of number two, which
has twice the market share of number three. Ries and Trout argue that the success of a
brand is not due to the high level of marketing acumen of the company itself, but rather,
it is due to the fact that the company was first in the product category. They use the case
of Xerox to make this point. Xerox was the first plain-paper copier and was able to
sustain its leadership position. However, time after time the company failed in other
product categories in which it was not first.
Similarly, IBM failed when it tried to compete with Xerox in the copier market, and
Coca-Cola failed in its effort to use Mr. Pibb to take on Dr. Pepper. These examples
support the point that the success of a brand usually is due to its being first in the market
rather than the marketing abilities of the company. The power of the company comes
from the power of its brand, not the other way around.
With this point in mind, there are certain things that a market leader should do to
maintain the leadership position. First, Ries and Trout emphasize what it should not do,
and that is boast about being number one. If a firm does so, then customers will think that
the firm is insecure in its position if it must reinforce it by saying so.
If a firm was the first to introduce a product, then the advertising campaign should
reinforce this fact. Coca-Cola's "the real thing" does just that, and implies that other colas
are just imitations.
Another strategy that a leader can follow to maintain its position is the multibrand
strategy. This strategy is to introduce multiple brands rather than changing existing ones
that hold leadership positions. It often is easier and cheaper to introduce a new brand
rather than change the positioning of an existing brand. Ries and Trout call this strategy a
single-position strategy because each brand occupies a single, unchanging position in the
mind of the consumer.
Finally, change is inevitable and a leader must be willing to embrace change rather than
resist it. When new technology opens the possibility of a new market that may threaten
the existing one, a successful firm should consider entering the new market so that it will
have the first-mover advantage in it. For example, in the past century the New York
Central Railroad lost its leadership as air travel became possible. The company might
have been able to maintain its leadership position had it used its resources to form an
Sometimes it is necessary to adopt a broader name in order to adapt to change. For
example, Haloid changed its name to Haloid Xerox and later to simply Xerox. This is a
typical pattern of changing Name 1 to an expanded Name 1 - Name 2, and later to just
Positioning of a Follower
Second-place companies often are late because they have chosen to spend valuable time
improving their product before launching it. According to Ries and Trout, it is better to
be first and establish leadership.
If a product is not going to be first, it then must find an unoccupied position in which it
can be first. At a time when larger cars were popular, Volkswagen introduced the Beetle
with the slogan "Think small." Volkswagen was not the first small car, but they were the
first to claim that position in the mind of the consumer.
Other positions that firms successfully have claimed include:
high price (Mobil 1 synthetic engine lubricant)
gender (Virginia Slims)
time of day (Nyquil night-time cold remedy)
place of distribution (L'eggs in supermarkets)
quantity (Schaefer - "the one beer to have when you're having more than one.")
It most likely is a mistake to build a brand by trying to appeal to everyone. There are too
many brands that already have claimed a position and have become entrenched leaders in
their positions. A product that seeks to be everything to everyone will end up being
nothing to everyone.
Repositioning the Competition
Sometimes there are no unique positions to carve out. In such cases, Ries and Trout
suggest repositioning a competitor by convincing consumers to view the competitor in a
different way. Tylenol successfully repositioned aspirin by running advertisements
explaining the negative side effects of aspirin.
Consumers tend to perceive the origin of a product by its name rather than reading the
label to find out where it really is made. Such was the case with vodka when most vodka
brands sold in the U.S. were made in the U.S. but had Russian names. Stolichnaya
Russian vodka successfully repositioned its Russian-sounding competitors by exposing
the fact that they all actually were made in the U.S., and that Stolichnaya was made in
When Pringle's new-fangled potato chips were introduced, they quickly gained market
share. However, Wise potato chips successfully repositioned Pringle's in the mind of
consumers by listing some of Pringle's non-natural ingredients that sounded like harsh
chemicals, even though they were not. Wise potato chips of course, contained only
"Potatoes. Vegetable oil. Salt." As a resulting of this advertising, Pringle's quickly lost
market share, with consumers complaining that Pringle's tasted like cardboard, most
likely as a consequence of their thinking about all those unnatural ingredients. Ries and
Trout argue that is usually is a lost cause to try to bring a brand back into favor once it
has gained a bad image, and that in such situations it is better to introduce an entirely new
Repositioning a competitor is different from comparative advertising. Comparative
advertising seeks to convince the consumer that one brand is simply better than another.
Consumers are not likely to be receptive to such a tactic.
The Power of a Name
A brand's name is perhaps the most important factor affecting perceptions of it. In the
past, before there was a wide range of brands available, a company could name a product
just about anything. These days, however, it is necessary to have a memorable name that
conjures up images that help to position the product.
Ries and Trout favor descriptive names rather than coined ones like Kodak or Xerox.
Names like DieHard for a battery, Head & Shoulders for a shampoo, Close-Up for a
toothpaste, People for a gossip magazine. While it is more difficult to protect a generic
name under trademark law, Ries and Trout believe that in the long run it is worth the
effort and risk. In their opinion, coined names may be appropriate for new products in
which a company is first to market with a sought-after product, in which case the name is
not so important.
Margarine is a name that does not very well position the product it is describing. The
problem is that it sounds artificial and hides the true origin of the product. Ries and Trout
propose that "soy butter" would have been a much better name for positioning the
product as an alternative to the more common type of butter that is made from milk.
While some people might see soy in a negative light, a promotional campaign could be
developed to emphasize a sort of "pride of origin" for soy butter.
Another everyday is example is that of corn syrup, which is viewed by consumers as an
inferior alternative to sugar. To improve the perceptions of corn syrup, one supplier
began calling it "corn sugar", positioning it as an alternative to cane sugar or beet sugar.
Ries and Trout propose that selecting the right name is important for positioning just
about anything, not just products. For example, the Clean Air Act has a name that is
difficult to oppose, as do "fair trade" laws. Even a person's name impacts his or her
success in life. One study showed that on average, schoolteachers grade essays written by
children with names like David and Michael a full letter grade higher than those written
by children with names like Hubert and Elmer.
Eastern Airlines was an example of a company limited by its name. Air travel passengers
always viewed it as a regional airline that served the eastern U.S., even though it served a
much wider area, including the west coast. Airlines such as American and United did not
have such a perception problem. (Eastern Airlines ceased operations in 1991.)
Another problem that some companies face is confusion with another company that has a
similar name. Consumers frequently confused the tire manufacturer B.F. Goodrich with
Goodyear. The Goodyear blimp had made Goodyear tires well-known, and Goodyear
frequently received credit by consumers for tire products that B.F. Goodrich has
pioneered. (B.F. Goodrich eventually sold its tire business to Uniroyal.)
Other companies have changed their names to something more general, and as a result
create confusion with other similar-sounding companies. Take for instance The
Continental Group, Inc. and The Continental Corporation. Few people confidently can
say which makes cans and which sells insurance.
The No-Name Trap
People tend use abbreviations when they have fewer syllables than the original term. GE
is often used instead of General Electric. IBM instead of International Business
Machines. In order to make their company names more general and easier to say, many
corporations have changed their legal names to a series of two or three letters. Ries and
Trout argue that such changes usually are unwise.
Companies having a broad recognition may be able to use the abbreviated names and
consumers will make the translation in their minds. When they hear "GM", they think
"General Motors". However, lesser known companies tend to lose their identity when
they use such abbreviations. Most people don't know the types of business in which
companies named USM or AMP are engaged.
The same applies to people's names as well. While some famous people are known by
their initials (such as FDR and JFK), it is only after they become famous that they begin
using their initials. Ries and Trout advise managers who aspire for name recognition to
use an actual name rather then first and middle initials. The reason that initials do not
lead to recognition is that the human mind works by sounds, not by spellings.
Most companies began selling a single product, and the name of the company usually
reflected that product. As the successful firms grew in to conglomerates, their original
names became limiting. Ries and Trout advise companies seeking more general names to
select a shorter name made of words, not individual letters. For example, for Trans World
Airlines, they favored truncating it simply to Trans World instead removing all words and
using the letters TWA.
The Free-Ride Trap
A company introducing a new product often is tempted to use the brand name of an
existing product, avoiding the need to build the brand from scratch. For example, Alka-
Seltzer named a new product Alka-Seltzer Plus. Ries and Trout do not favor this strategy
since the original name already in positioned in the consumer's mind. In fact, consumers
viewed Alka-Seltzer Plus simply as a better Alka-Seltzer, and the sales of Alka-Seltzer
Plus came at the expense of Alka-Seltzer, not from the market share of the competition.
Some firms have built a wide range of products on a single brand name. Others, such as
Procter & Gamble have selected new names for each new product, carefully positioning
the product in a different part of the consumer's mind. Ries and Trout maintain that a
single brand name cannot hold multiple positions; either the new product will not be
successful or the original product bearing the name will lose its leadership position.
Nonetheless, some companies do not want their new products to be anonymous with an
unrecognized name. However, Ries and Trout propose that anonymity is not so bad; in
fact, it is a resource. When the product eventually catches the attention of the media, it
will have the advantage of being seen without any previous bias, and if a firm prepares
for this event well, once under the spotlight the carefully designed positioning can be
communicated exactly as intended. This moment of fame is a one-shot event and once it
has passed, the product will not have a second chance to be fresh and new.
The Line Extension Trap
Line extensions are tempting for companies as a way to leverage an existing popular
brand. However, if the brand name has become near generic so that consumers consider
the name and the product to be one and the same, Ries and Trout generally do not believe
that a line extension is a good idea.
Consider the case of Life Savers candy. To consumers, the brand name is synonymous
with the hard round candy that has a hole in the middle. Nonetheless, the company
introduced a Life Savers chewing gum. This use of the Life Savers name was not
consistent with the consumer's view of it, and the Life Savers chewing gum brand failed.
The company later introduced the first brand of soft bubble gum and gave it a new name:
Bubble Yum. This product was very successful because it not only had a name different
from the hard candy, it also had the the advantage of being the first soft bubble gum.
Ries and Trout cite many examples of failures due to line extensions. The consistent
pattern in these cases is that either the new product does not succeed, or the original
successful product loses market share as a result of its position being weakened by a
diluted brand name.
When Line Extensions Can Work
Despite the disadvantages of line extensions, there are some cases in which it is not
economically feasible to create a new brand and in which a line extension might work.
Some of the cases provided by Ries and Trout include:
Low volume product - if the sales volume is not expected to be high.
Crowded market - if there is no unique position that the product can occupy.
Small ad budget - without strong advertising support, it might make sense to use
the house name.
Commodity product - an undifferentiated commodity product has less need of its
own name than does a breakthrough product.
Distribution by sales reps - products distributed through reps may not need a
separate brand name. Those sold on store shelves benefit more from their own
Positioning Has Broad Applications
The concept of positioning applies to products in the broadest sense. Services, tourist
destinations, countries, and even careers can benefit from a well-developed positioning
strategy that focuses on a niche that is unoccupied in the mind of the consumer or
Al Ries and Jack Trout, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
The bestselling marketing classic on which this summary is based. Covers the full details
of positioning principles. Ries and Trout write in an easy-to-understand manner, using
successes and failures of real products as examples to help the reader internalize the
principles and develop an intuitive feel for them.
DIFFERENTIATION, ONE OF THE TWO MAIN ROUTES
TO MARKETING STRATEGY(Ramaswamy)
In marketing strategy and competitive advantage, we seen that there are only two basic
routes to marketing strategy, the price route and the differentiation route. In their search
for market leadership, companies take to either of the two routes; they try to achieve
either a low cost position/cost leadership, or a differentiated position through which they
can offer superior value to the consumer.
Differentiation Helps the Firm on Non-Price Plank
The major attraction and the major benefit in resorting to differentiation is that it takes
the firm away from a total price-based competition. In other words, it allows the firm to
fight on the non-price plank, with all the benefits associated with it. So, differentiation is
a crucial decision for a firm and forms an integral part of its marketing strategy. Through
differentiation, firms move to a position wherein they can claim a premium in the market.
Differentiation can be Achieved Through Multiple Sources and in Multiple Ways
Companies can achieve differentiation using the product, or distribution methods, or
promotion steps. Actually, right from the firm‘s collaboration, or plant location, to its
after-sales service, practically anything can be used to differentiate an offer and make it
distinct. In fact, companies can differentiate through every activity that they perform,
provided they excel in it.
Modi Xerox used its collaboration with Rank Xerox as its differentiation. Garden Silks
has differentiated through its emphasis on design. L& T, the engineering firm, recruits
engineers with excellent qualification and claims superiority in executing projects.
DuPont‘s leadership in chemical technology lends its products a highly differentiated
position. Caterpillar Tractor, the leader in earthmoving equipment, made a mark through
its distribution channel and service. Eureka forbes, the leader in vacuum cleaners in India,
has used personal selling as the sole means of reaching the customer and built up a
distinction through this feature. IBM differentiated along technology and service, Coke
and Pepsi differentiated through brand power and rolls through superior engineering.
PRODUCT LENDS MAXIMUM SCOPE FOR DIFFERENTIATION
Though differentiation can be achieved through a large number of ways as explained
above, the maximum scope for exploiting differentiation remains with the product. While
all the 4Ps of marketing are important elements from the point of view of strategy, the
other Ps normally go as elaborations of the offer, while the product forms its core.
Product differentiation is of vital importance in product management and has great
potential in forging successful marketing strategies.
1 tangible product attributes and functions and
2 intangible characteristics and emotional associations.
Through a series of examples we shall see how differentiation on the above planks are
1. tangible product attributes and functions
product quality/ technology/ operational efficiency/ service
Differentiation based on ingredients/ formula
Close-up with gel; hll‘s close-up was putt on the market with a distinction. It was a
toothpaste based on gel. While the other toothpastes then available used calcium carbonet
as carier , close-up used glycerine. A paste with glycerine as base could be coloured
nicely; it could also be given better flavour. Close-up gel came in bright red colour; and
blue and green variants were added later. Another special feature of close-up was that it
served as a mouthwash as well. In other words, it combined the properties of toothpaste
and a mouthwash. Such strong product differentiation helped HLL to secure for Close-up
a market share of over 15 per cent during the early growth stage itself. Colgate, the leader
in the industry, was compelled to copy this differentiation as its market share fell at the
hands of the new brand.
TTK Prestige with Teflon: TTK group launched the prestige range of frying pans as
non-stick cookware. It claimed for the new range, the distinction that the coating used
was Dupont‘s Teflon, the best material available for ensuring the non-stick property.
Promise with clove oil: in the latter half of the 1980s, Balsara‘s Promise toothpaste was
creating waves in the Indian oral care market. Its differentiation was the special
ingredient, clove oil, which was a traditional herbal remedy for tooth/gum complaints.
Vatika with herbal ingredients: Dabur Vatika claimed distinction as a hair-oil carrying
a blend of several natural, herbal ingredients traditionally used by Indian women for hair
care. The ingredients included oil, ‗brahmi‘, lime, ‗mehandi‘. Etc.
New Ariel with Carezyme: P&G introduced the New Ariel Microshine (an extension of
its Ariel microsystem), a new technology detergent, incorporating Carezyme and OD
Base. Carezyme is P&G proprietary formula, which gives the detergent certain unique
properties and helps it perform far beyond conventional cleaning. P&G had launched
Ariel microsystem in 1990 in India and gained some market share in the premium
detergents market. The company was then trying to strengthen its position by new
product offers supported by new formulate/ingredients.
Differentiation Based on Functional value
Videocon computer controlled fridge: the fridge had its differentiation on a variety of
new functions. ‗videocon‘s 450-litre, 6 door refrigerator. Computer controlled. A fully
front control makes operation easier. Quick Freezing Corner and the Deodoriser can be
activated at the touch of a finger. Quick Freezing Corner: a stream of cold air chills
foodstuff quickly, preserving taste and freshness. Deodoriser: Eliminates odour. Partial
Freezing. Preserve food stuff at a temperature of -3 C, without actually freezing them;
making it easy to slice meat and fish . Fresh-Vegetable Compartment. Keeps vegetables
fresh for days without any protective covering or wrapping. The Videocon 6 door no-
frost. It‘s big. It‘s new. It‘s right for you.‘
Roti Chef: Roti Chef a newly launched kitchen gadget for making chappathi, used speed
and ease of cooking as the differentiation plank: It is an instant chappathi maker, which
does the spreading and roasting in a jiffy.
Differentiation Based on Additional Features
The ‗mega‘ feature as a differentiator: companies in the television, audio and refrigerator
industries in India, for example, came with‘mega sized‘ products, and used the ‗mega‘
Feature as part of their differentiation effort. In television sets, BPL, Videocon, Onida,
Philips, Optonica, and Bush have introduced large screen models. The screen sizes first
went up from 21 inches to 29 inches, and then to 33 inches. Philips started the trend with
its 29 inch model. In audio, BPL came out with its D1000 digital fidelity system. The
speaker of this new system was 34.65 inches tall. In refrigerators, godrej initiated the
mega trend, with the introduction of its 300-litre Sumo model. This followed by a 390-
litre, double door model, which was way ahead of all other refrigerator brands in terms of
size. BPL followed with its two-door 230-litre model, three-door 230-litre and four door
350-litre frost-free models. Then, it brought its 390-litre model, which had two
compressors, one for the freezer and the other for the main section. BPL‘s four-door
refrigerator model,BR- 3504, came with four different temperature zones, a deodorizer, a
humidity filter and a special high-energy efficient compressor. All these companies
differentiated their products on the theme of ‗bigness‘.
Aristocrat suitcase with wheels: when the manufacturers of Aristocrat moulded luggage
introduced suitcases with wheels, it was a case of offering a unique convenience to the
ground on its wheels. The feature did amount to a distinctiveness.
Differentiation Through Product Design
Product design has a lot to do with product success. Quite naturally, product design
becomes a good avenue for product differentiation. a well-designed product makes real
difference to the customer. It ensures product reliability and durability. In addition, it
enhances user comfort.
Kinetic Honda: in the first half of the 1990s, the two-wheeler industry withnessed a
recession. Countering the effect of recession and scoring over competition was a real
challenge for any two-wheeler firm during that period. When the industry growth rate
was negative, kinetic Honda came up with excellent performance. Kinetic Honda‘s
market research revealed that most existing brands of two-wheelers were not adequately
user-friendly. Starting was the main problem. Kinetic Honda brought in the new-wave
scooter, which had electronic ignition and could do away with the kick-start routine. The
users, especially women, found this improvement a blessing. The new model contained a
whole range of other features too, such as automatic gear shifting , choke, built-in-
indicators and a streamlined aerodynamic body design . Kinetic Honda made these
features, especially the ‗kick start‘ as its differentiation plank. Not only did the company
succeed in marketing its two-wheeler in the years of recession, it even embarked upon a
programme of expansion.
Differentiation Based on quality/ Operational Efficiency/ Technology/ Service
Microsoft excels through service: Microsoft, the computer software major, makes its
offer distinct through many efficient service programmes. For example, the company
strives to sort out 99 percent of the customer complaints through telephone from three
technical support centers. Microsoft is keeping ‗designated service providers‘ for this
purpose; they are hired computer engineers. When a Microsoft engineer cannot answer a
call directly, the customer‘s problem. Microsoft compensates the service providers on a
per call basis, with guaranteed minimum number of calls per day. With this arrangement,
Microsoft has been able to set its service standard in this matter at a very high level. The
standard set is to answer 90 percent of service calls within 60 seconds.
2. Intangible Characteristics and Emotional Associations
So far, we have seen differentiation built among the various tangible, functional attributes
of the product. Now, let us see how differentiation can be built around intangible
characteristics and emotional associations.
Dinesh Suitings, for example, is not differentiated on a utility plank. Its differentiation is
built around ‗prestige‘. In its advertising campaigns, it builds an aura around the brand
just by using Sunil Gavaskar as the model. The brand and the prestige of the model are
nicely combined in the ads. The punch line reads: ‗Dinesh Suitings….the world in your
Reid & Taylor: in the same product category of suitings, Reid & Taylor uses the same
approach for differentiation, with even more telling effect. Here ‗James Bond‘ is the
prestigious endorser. The ad message links the prestige of bond and the brand:
Reid & Taylor… the legend of cloth…
James Bond….the legend of a man
Luxury suitings….Bond with the best
Ray Ban: similarly, Ray Ban Sunglasses does not build a differentiation on the functional
characteristics of its glass. It projects aesthetics, instead, and claims,….‘Ray Ban…for
exhilaration!‘ It is the lifestyle that is played up.
The Task is to Locate Attributes that will Make the Product Distinct
The examples provided above reveal that the major task involved in differentiating a
product is to identify certain product attributes that can attract buyers. The attribute may
be real or psychological. It may be centering on the product—its quality, use
characteristics, etc. or, the image and prestige dimension. The success depends on the
way the attributes are built in and communicated. The name of the game is to make the
Effective product differentiation requires a through understanding of the distinctive
attributes of competitors‘ products. In addition, it requires a through appreciation of the
expectations of the buyers and their motives in respect of the product under
Enhancing Value, the Aim; Product Attributes, the tool
No firm can build up differentiation around its product offer all of a sudden. A lot of
customer/competition analysis and product planning lies at the root of the differentiation
The major questions are:
what is the value the customer would seek from the offer?
To give him that value, what attributes should our product have?
How are the competing products placed in this respect?
How do we provide the attributes one better than the competitors?
In short, what unique attributes should we develop to make our offer absolutely
distinctive and satisfying to the customer?
In other words, the firm looks for ‗product gaps‘/‘satisfaction gaps‘ and tries to
fill these gaps in its attempt at differentiation.
Locating customer benefits/ product attributes
We have seen that the aim of differentiation is to enhance the value of the offer to the
customer. the marketing man as to identify the assess the customer benefits that are to
be incorporated in the product. It is obvious that no product can carry the entire
spectrum of benefits. The firm has to decide how far it can accommodate customer‘s
expectation in its offer.
Value addition and product differentiation are concurrent processes: in fact, it is
the awareness about the requirement of customers value that enthuses the firm to
continuously upgrade a generic product to different levels of augmentation to suit
different segments of the market. This way, value addition and product differentiation
are concurrent processes; value addition is the end purpose; identifying the attributes
to be provided incorporating them in the product, and differentiating the product from
competitors product is the route
In short, effective differentiation requires careful evaluation of the benefits sought by
the target audience and incorporating the benefits in the product offer. As mentioned
earlier, various market research techniques are available to assess and measure the
benefits sought by a specific consumer group in a particular product in a given
context, and to construct a comparative profile of benefits perception. The profile
while indicate the relative weightage given by consumers to different benefits, which
are linked to different product attributes. In the chapter on market research, we are
covering techniques like perception mapping, which are widely used to study
consumers‘ perception regarding different combinations of customer benefits/ product
Conditions for differentiation to succeed
For differentiation to be rewarding, the differentiation claim must be real and
satisfying to the user, and be also sustainable. The claim has to be backed up by product
performance. The customer using the product has to be convinced that the differentiation
claimed is true and that it is actually delivered. Taking the prestige cookware example
cited earlier, the cookware should prove a non-stick vessel it the kitchen. And, the Teflon
should work and work better than other similar products in the market. In the caterpillar
example, the spare parts should actually reach the customer in any part of the world
within 24 hours of the request. Caterpillar should have lined up the infrastructure like
dealer network, strong points, transport arrangements and inventories to honors its
The differentiation should be perceptible
The differentiation claimed may be real or psychological, matter-of-fact or subtle. The
main requirement is that the consumers must perceive the products as intended by the
firm. In other words, the differentiation claimed has to be readily perceivable. Moreover,
it is not enough if a few consumers perceive the difference. To be of real marketing
significance, a differentiated product has to be seen as different and distinct by a
sufficiently large segment of consumers.
Should be Rooted in Competitive Advantage
Product differentiation is no easy game. For differentiation to succeed, the firm must
have built up the required competitive advantages. Channel and technology clout, unique
production process, flexible production facilities, and advanced R&D set-up for product
innovations capacity to develop such avenues.
Earlier, we mentioned that brand image is the differentiation plank for a product like
Coca-Cola. It fights on the power of its name, the sway it holds on minds of millions of
consumers round the globe. But to achieve this dominant image, the company has carried
out a sustained marketing effort, supported by heavy investments, over a long period of
time. Similarly, Hindustan Leaver has spent over 100 years and huge investments to
build a brand like Lifebuoy. It means that only if a firm is committed to brand
development, it can build brands that can serve as a source of competitive advantage and
fight on their differentiation strength.
When we take service as the differentiator, Maruti is a good example to cite. Maruti has
built up an extensive service network in India, consisting of over 180 dealer service
workshops and 1,2oo authorized service stations spread out in 470 towns and cities. No
other car company operating in India can claim a dealer-cum-service spread anywhere
near this. Channel/service clout is a competitive advantage for Maruti and it uses it to
differentiate and strengthen its product offer. It can boast of a Maruti service station in
every nook and corner of the country, including sparingly populated areas, and promise
that the Maruti vehicle will be attended to in all places.
The point to be remembered is that product differentiation as a strategy can work only if
the product-claims are sustained. And, one can make sustainable product claims only
with the support of the relevant competitive advantages.
What is positioning
Positioning is a platform for the brand it facilitates the brand to get through to the target
Positioning is act of fixing the locus of the product offer in the minds of the target
consumers. In positioning, the firm decides how and around what parameters, the product
offer has to be placed befor the target consumers. The significance of product positioning
can be easily understood from david Ogilvy‖s words; the results of your campaign
depends less on how we write your advertising than on how your product is positioned.
Main concern in positioning
A product cannot be everything to everyone; hence, the importance of positioning
The need for positioning arises out of the fact that a product cannot be ‗everything to
everyone‘ and has to be something to some segment. Normally some unique feature of
the product, some special needs of the market or some noticeable gap in competing offers
is picked up hand the product is positioned around that feature/or a combination of
features for a particular target audience
Identifying such features and using them imaginatively as the plank on which to project
the product is the essence of positioning. A product can be positioned for an exclusive
well-to-do segment of the market; it can be positioned for men for children; for the fun
living distinctiveness convenience economy uniqueness novelty or usage it can also be
positioned against a competing brand.
Positioning means putting the product in a predetermined orbit
Positioning is the specific task of taking the product to a chosen orbit in the minds of the
target consumers. If the positioning decision is faulty, the product suffers heavy losses. It
may take a long time and enormous effort to reteive a wronglt positioned product. While
repositioning a successfully positioned product at a latter stage in the light of the changes
in its lifecycle may be easy, it will not be all that easy to reposition a wrongly positioned
In fact the varience that ocures between the position intended by the marketing man and
the position assigned by the consumers is a problem inherent in positioning. This has to
be talked at the very outset and in case it could not be anticipated and handeld in advance
it must be handled as a course correction as soon as possible after the launch. Marketing
savvy companies quickly find out the consumers perception of the position. If it is at
variance from what is intended by them, they rectify the gap .
Positioning connects product offering with target market
While target market selection clarifies for whom the product is intended, and marketing
mix shows the way in which the 4Ps are to be aligned in the offer to the target market,
positioning acts as the bridge linking the product offer with the market.
Consumer’s mind a geometric perceptual space; the product/ brand seeks a locus in
the space through positioning
In positioning, the consumer‘s mind is viewed as a geometric perceptual space, with
different product categories and brands occupying certain positions therein. These
positions held by products/brands change as the available space within the consumer‘s
mind and how to retain it is the question in positioning. By making what kind of
propositions, say, in a bathing soap, can a firm secure a position? Where lies the gap in
the mind?What are the attributes which the consumer seeks and which will help fill that
space? Does the firm‘s product possess those attributes? Or, is it possible to replace an
existing brand‘s position in the consumer‘s mind by offering a better value proposition?
We can seek a position in the consumers mind through several routes/propositions. We
may seek a position placing our brand against another ongoing brand, or we may place it
against certain expectations the consumer nurtures. In other words, we will be placing our
brand against some frame of references as seen by the consumer. In our endeavour at
meeting the desired position, we might have already endowed our product/brand with
certain differentiation value. Now, we want this product to be perceived by the consumer
in a particular way. This ‗perception in a particular way‘ is what positioning is all about.
Through positioning, we are launching the product to a particular trajectory in the
consumers mind. The consumer has a frame of reference as far as the given product
category is concerned; and he will evaluate any new offer against this reference. The
issue is: in this frame of reference, where do we want our brand to fit in.
While positioning a brand, the firm has to reckon competitors—especially the
As a part of the positioning task, the firm analyses the competitors‘ positions, sizes up its
own offer and identifies the best possible proposition for its product.
In particular, the firm has to reckon the leader‘s position. It is difficult to dislodge the
leading brands position from the consumers mind; coca-cola is synonymous with cola,
Xerox with photocopying and walkman is practically a generic name for personal stero.
So, any newcomer to these business has to study the positioning of these leading brands
and then decide how it should position its offer.
One problem marketers usually face in positioning is that it is difficult to dislodge a
position that is deeply ingrained in the consumers mind. Al Ries and Jack Trout , who
championed the positioning theme through their book positioning—The battle for your
mind, discuss the subject at length. If somebody asks you which is the highest mountain?
One may not remember. Through a series of such questions, the authors drive home the
point that the ‗the first mountain, the first company, the first product to occupy the
position in mind is hard to dislodge‘.
To illustrate further, throughout the world, among computer customers, IBM holds a
dominant position. Others brands cannot enter the market without relating themselves in
some way to IBM‘s position. In the chocolate market of India, Cadbury‘s have created a
dominant position and way any newly entering brand has to necessarily reckon with it .
one cannot wish away the leader‘s position. Because, the consumer will ask himself, ‗is it
tastier than Cadbury‘s?‘ The point is that wherever there is a dominant brand/competitor,
the other brands have to reckon with its position.
Positioning is not Over at One Stroke; it has to be Monitored and Adopted
Positioning is not over at one stroke. One has to monitor the brand‘s performance and see
whether the positioning is working well. The test takes place in the market and only the
performance of the brand can prove whether it is positioned rightly or not. The firm may
intend a particular positioning, but the market may perceive it differently. And
sometimes, the very assumptions of the firm in positioning the brand might have gone
wrong. Such drawbacks will come to the fore only by a constant evaluation. As we shall
see in the complan example it is not easy to get right positioning. Even if the positioning
is right at the launch and clearly growth stage, it needs monitoring and correction through
the growth stage. Brands –even successful ones—may need repositioning.
Product positioning and value proposition
For product positioning to succeed, it must be based on an identifiable, meaningful and
compelling value proposition.
What is the value you propose to give the consumer through your product? What is it that
the consumer gains by possessing your product?
A value proposition is the assertion/statement of the benefits and satisfaction that the
product is offering. In fact, the first rule in positioning is that it should state the value
proposition and thereby appeal to the target consumers.
We can understand the concept of value proposition better by examining how companies
make value propositions in positioning their products.
South west airlines, USA
The claim:… south west Airlines offer the best prices with dependable service and
The company is making a very distinctive claim and offering certain value to the
consumer. Now, the company has to support/ substantiate these claims so that the
consumer is convinced of the soundness and credibility of its proposition. It is here that
the differentiation attributes of the product offer come in.you are guaranteeing the
proposed value through the special and unique attributes of your product/brand.
The claim has to be justified by differentiation attributes: let us see how south west
Airlines justifies the claim it makes: ‗..South West Airlines offer the best prices with
dependable services and reasonable amenities because we don‘t charge the customer
anything for amenities‘(no fills, lowest price).
It is clear that the value proposition made by a product becomes convincing when it is
explained and justified by the cifferential attributes of that product. In fact, these two
elements together— the claim supported by the product differentiation plank—illuminate
the positioning theme of the brand.
And to whom? The positioning exercise is still not over. The firm has to specify to whom
the offer is addressed. To the two elements, when the target market factor—i.e. to whom
this offer is addressed to – is also added, the product positioning statement becomes
Let us see how south west Airlines clarifies this part.
It adds, for the short distance travelers.
Let us see how the total value positioning looks like, with the three components, the
target market, the claim and the supporting justification based on product differentiation,
‗for the short distance travelers, we (SWA) offer the best prices, with dependable service
and reasonable amenities, because we do not charge the customers anything for
amenities(no frills, lowest price)‘.
For the business traveler…
The most convenient bank,
Because you can access your money from wherever you are.. all our branches are
For business people who rent cars,
Avis is the company who will provide the best service
Because the employees own the company.
Home Depot offers the best prices
Because we are the largest building supply company.
Communicating the value proposition to target consumers
We saw at the beginning of this that by positioning the firm is trying to secure a place for
its product in the consumer‘s mind. So a major task is to communicate to the target
audience the distinction, which your product offer claims. In fact, once the value
proposition is decided, the crux of the positioning job lies with marketing
communications. Market segmentation and marketing targeting decides its target market.
In fixing positioning, the firm bridging the product with the target market. All the other
Ps, namely price, place (channel) and promotion, support the positioning task, with the
brunt of the responsibility taken up by marketing communications/promotion.
In a well- orchestrated product strategy, advertising and promotion are the extended
stages in the total product positioning exercise. The burden of marketing communications
in general, and advertising in particular, is to see that the product offer and the value
proposition that goes with it, is properly carried and delivered to the consumer‘s
attention. In fact, quite often, product failures are traced to inept communicated properly
to the target audience.
It is the job of advertising to communicate effectively the positioning, which the firm
seeks. The media, the message, the source, the headlines and the display all have to be
blended appropriately so as to effectively communicate the position one is seeking in the
mind of the consumer.
An effective ad is one that clarifies successfully the positioning of the brand. Extending
the logic further, one can even say that if from an ad we cannot isolate the three
components, target market, value proposition and the supporting product differentiation,
the ad is deficient. It may also imply that the marketing team is not clear about
positioning of the product and hence their to the ad agency is deficient. In either case,
advertising fails in its basic purpose.
The burden of advertising is to see how best and how imaginatively and convincingly the
product positioning can be taken to the target audience.
Product positioning and Brand positioning
It is essential to understand the relationship between product positioning and brand
positioning. Though in discussions, the two terms are synonymously and interchangeably
used, technically they are different.
Product positioning denotes the specific product category/product class in which the
given product is opting to compete. And brand positioning denotes the positioning of the
brand viz-a-viz the competing brands in the chosen product category. Let us understand
this distinction better through the example of Maruti Omni.
Example of Maruti Omni
Way back in the 1980s, when Maruti Udyog decided to launch one more vehicle in
addition to the Maruti 800 car, it came out a vehicle, much more spacious than the Maruti
800 car. It had the looks of a van; it could comfortably seat six passengers; it had five
doors, substantial luggage space and taller roof; and it ran on petrol.
Product (category) positioning of Omni: the initial question to be answered was:
As what should this vehicle be positioned?
A multi-purpose van?
In other words, which was the product category in which this new vehicle was to be
If positioned as car, this vehicle would be competing with the then existing brands like
ambassador and fiat in addition to its own Maruti 800. if positioned as a van, it would be
competing with the other brands like Matador and Tempo.
Omni positioned as a multi-purpose van: Maruti decided to position the vehicle as a van
and it was named Maruti Omni.
Brand positioning of Omni: once the product category positioning was decided, the next
question was how should the brand positioning of M aruti van be done viz-a-viz the
competing brands in the van category. The new van had seek its position on its distinctive
advantages. The company had to analyse how the competing brands were perceived on
the different attributes special to this product category.
In the van market, the Maruti van had to compete with other brands like Matador and
Tempo. All those attributes, which the consumer considers important and looks for in a
van had to be analysed and the consumer‘s perception of the existing brands on those
attributes had to be assessed. And then,Maruti van‘s desired locus/positioning viz-a-viz
the competing brands had to be decided.
One analysis by the company taking two major attributes, passenger space and price,that
mattered much in this category (based on consumer perception) showed that Maruti van
could be positioned as the high space—low price brand in the market. This is brand
Omni positioned as the low priced, spacious, brand in vans: Maruti Omni was positioned
as the low priced, spacious van. But in the market, as time passed, Maruti Omni could not
acuire a dominant position viz-a-viz the brands. The major competing brands were more
spacious, though higher priced. At this juncture, Maruti decided to take a fresh look at the
positioning of Maruti Omni.
Repositioning of Omni as the most spacious, lowest priced, family car:
while trying tosort out the problems faced by in Omni in the van segment, the company
found that the consumer had acquired a different perception about the functionality of the
Many people had started using it as a good substitute for car. For middle class homes, it
ideally served as a family car. More analysis by the company followed. The finding was
that it was advantageous to position it as a car. The company found the positioning
theme, ‗the most spacious family car at the lowest price‘. And in the new position, Maruti
Omni was in the product category of cars, competing with brands like Ambassador, Fiat
and Maruti 800.
As part of the positioning of Maruti Omni as a spacious family car, the company ran an
ad campaign. In this campaign, Maruti stressed as the value proposition ‗the most
spacious car for the family‘. The valu proposition was supported and justified by product
attributes.details are given below:
Maruti Omni Repositioning
Its surprising that most cars don‘t have the fifth door. Sure, you might call it the
boot-bath or the dicky, but in this car it is definitely a point of entry—especially
for a whole gang of excited kids, or the Mrs.‘ shopping bonanaza!
In other words , it opens wide into wide inner space. And when you combine so
much space with the superb Maruti features of styling, performance, fuel-
efficiency and driving pleasure, you‘ll admit it‘s a total car. No wonder it‘s
called the Omni.
Omni space: versatile
On a rough calculation, there is 7.5 cubic meter of space on those four wheels.
Remove the rear seat and the omni doubles up as a cargo carrier, a picnic
hatchback, an out-of-town roadster. And to you, it‘s still the family car, the office
car, and the knock-about-town car.
In fact, with so much space, its versatility depends on your imagination.
The benefits of a car and the advantage of more space. Space that translates into
more headroom, more legroom, more luggage –room and more people-room too.
Omni ; designed for driving comfort
It‘s a pleasure to drive. The instrument penel is sleek, with easy-to-read displays.
The articulated steering column is positioned just right; seats are adjustable, with
control levers and gear shaft at hand-touch distance.and of course, plenty of
The high-performance Suzuki engine
Technically, it‘s described as a 3-cylinder 4-strike, 800cc engine.
Designed for over 150,000 kms of trouble-free operation, after which it can be re-
The Maruti plus points
Features for safety and stability are standard to omni. What is important is that
such features are found in more expensive cars.
A MacPherson strut independent suspension in front and a leaf spring type in the
30-cm diameter drop-center wheels contribute to safe, stable cornering, and tight
Synchromesh forward gears and a duel braking circuit.
Electrophotric paint desposition that ensures non-corrosion of the car‘s
A coolant system that eliminates the daily chore of filling water in the radiator.
Beyond doubt a very good car. Better still, the most spacious on the road.
Issues in product (category) positioning and brand positioning
It is evident that for any product, before entering the market, it has to sequentially carry
out the two exercises, product (category) positioning and brand positioning. As already
mentioned, in the first step, the product category where the new wntrant should enter and
compete, i.e. against what all products it has to compete, has to be decided. In this step, it
is broad function that the product is trying to serve that matters. This choice of product
category will decide the nature of the competition the product is going to face. Once
product category positioning is decided, the position for the new entrant against
competing brands in the chosen product category has to be analysed and fixed. In short,
the issues that are raised in product category positioning and brand positioning are
different. The questions to be raised are evident from the Maruti example.
Issues in product positioning
Where is the new offer going to compete? As what?
Which other product categories serve this need? In other words, what are the
substitute products that serve the same need?
Where is the real gap, where is such a new offer most welcome and wanted by the
What are the company‘s competencies of fight here?
In fact, these are the issues the film agitates in target market selection too. The linkage is
only natural because in product positioning. The film is actually bridging the product
offrer with the right target market.
Issues in brand positioning
In deciding the brand positioning, the issues are:
Which are the competing brands in the chosen product category?
What are the unique claims/strengths of the various brands?
What position do they enjoy in consumer‘s evaluation and perception?
According to the consumer rating of the competing brands,is there a wide gap in
expectations-performance? What kind of a product/new attributes/new functions
will attract the consumer?
What is the most favoured position……..and yet vacant?
Can the new brand claim the needed distinction and take the position and satisfy
MAIN ELEMENTS IN THE POSITIONING TASK
Relate and link your positioning to your differentiation theme.
Differentiation and positioning are to be employed in alignment;
differentiation is actually the prelude to positioning.
Find out the positioning gaps in the product category and the attributes
that can fill them in the minds of the consumers.
Analyse your competitors‘ positions and identify the possible position for
In a particular, evaluate the leader‘s position; the leading brand that
occupies a special position in the consumer‘s mind(cadbury‘s in
chocolates); other brands have to necessarily relate themselves in some
way to the leader‘s position; they cannot ignore the position of the leader,
nor wish it away.
Decide the locus you seek in the minds of the consumers and the attributes
of your offer with you will secure it.
Relate and link your positioning to your target consumers (for whom is it
intended?) and ensure that the positioning appeals to them.
Segmentation/targeting and differentiation/positioning are to be handled in
a composite manner.
Communicate effectively to the target market the positioning you have
Link your positioning to your value proposition; ensure, it actually
emanates from your value proposition.
Monitor the positioning as the product picks up. Check whether any
variance occurs between your intended positioning and the actual position
the consumer assigns to it in mind. Tackle the variance; go for a new
positioning, if required.
WHAT IS POSITIONING ( Subroto sengupta)
Product position refers to a brand‘s objective (functional) attributes in relation to
other brands. It is a characteristic of the physical product and its functional features.
Position, on the other hand, refers to a brand‘s subjective (or perceived) attributes in
relation to competing products.
This perceived image of the brand belongs not to the product but rather is the property of
the consumer‘s mental perceptions and in some instances, could differ widely from a
brand‘s true physical characteristics.
We will go later to the question but let us now turn to a very important thought—that the
perceived image of the product belongs not to the product but rather is the property of the
consumer‘s mental perceptions.
This suggests that the advertiser‘s main concern should be with that subjective perception
of his brand as seen by the target consumer. Creating the desired perception and
occupying a particular point or space in the target consumer‘s mind is the essence of
positioning or repositioning strategy .
Can we wrap up what has been said so far with a neat and tidy definition of
‗positioning‘? this is not entirely easy. Positioning is a comparatively new marketing
concept, unlike ‗consumer segmentation‘, for instance, which is an old friend and clearly
stands for the same idea to most of us. The debates there are on ever newer criteria for
segmentation: demographic; usage volume; loyalty patterns; degree of liking for the
brand; brand benefit; social class; life style; attitudes, interests and opinions; personality
characteristics; and like.
In contrast, positioning, to this day, appears to be both a confused concept, and there are
almost as many definitions as there are writers on the subject. To some, ‗positioning‘ is
the ‗proposition‘ or benefit of the product. To others it is its image, or perhaps its status
in the market relative to the brand leader. And some equate it with ‗brand personality‘
A few, indeed, believe that it is no more than old wine in new bottles; a mere rehash of
the ideas of market segmentation and product differentiation.
The ‗position‘ of a brand is its perception among target consumers. This perception is
based on its functional attributes and benefits (‗tasty‘, ‗aromatic‘,‘ sporty‘,‘ roomy‘ etc)
as well as on the non—functional or emotional associations it as acquired mainly from its
advertising (‗reliable‘, ‗traditional‘, ‗ smart‘, ‗ prestigious‘, ‗ modern‘, ‗ contemporary‘,
‗stodgy‘, ‗ lively‘) similarly, because it is a perception, it is colored by the target
consumer‘s own attitudes, beliefs and experience, thus leading to the fact that different
segments may perceive the same brand in different ways.
Another key aspect of a brand‘s position is the ways it is perceived in relation to
competitive brands among which we include similar products to product line of the same
company; for example, surf, sunlight and wheel washing powders, all marked by
Position then, represents the essence of the brand as perceived by the target consumers, in
a multi—brand market. In that sense ‗position‘ subsumes the physical or functional
characteristics of the brand, sometimes referred to as ‗product position‘( as in the article
from the journal of advertising research quoted earlier), and non-functional or emotional
For our purpose, we will not draw any distinction between ‗product position‘ and
‗position‘ and will use the terms interchangeably. Since we are mainly concerned with
brands this text will usually refer to brand positioning product and brand for our purpose
will also be used interchangeably, except when the context makes it clear that by and so
to a comprehensive definition.
1. The position of a brand is the perception it brings about in the mind of a target
2. This perception reflects the essence of the brand in terms of its functional and
non-functional benefits in the judgment of that consumer.
3. It is relative to the perception, held by that consumer, of competing brands, all of
which can be represented as points or positions in his or her perceptual space and
together, make up a product class.
Note that the brand is not passive but active. It acts to bring about that perception. Note
that position represents the while or overall perception of the brand in that consumer‘s
mind that it is always a relative concept.
Consumer’s perceptual space
In marketing terms, there is no such thing as a product or service which exists by itself in
space, independent of the consumer. For a product to exist, it must find a place in an
individual consumer‘s perception of the world of products around him or her. And this
perception is subjective, governed by the individual consumer‘s values, beliefs, needs,
experience and environment.
This is the core thought behind brand positioning—the idea that each brand (if at all
noticed) occupies a particular point or space in the individual consumer‘s mind, a point
which is determined by that consumer‘s perception of the brand in question and in its
relation to other brands.
The spatial distance between the points in that consumer‘s mind reflects the subject‘s
perception of similarity or dissimilarity between products and brands.
The everyday phrase, poles apart‘, is a simple example of how consumers position
products in their mind; for example, an electric shaver v. a cut-throat razor.
Positioning is how a product appears in relation to other products in the market
Brands can be positioned against competing brands on a perceptual map.
A perceptual map defines the market in terms of the way buyers perceive key
characteristics of competing products.
The basic perceptual map that buyers use maps products in terms of their price and
quality, as illustrated below:
POSITIONING: OF WHAT STUFF IS MADE?
Brand benefits and attributes
In what is probably one of the earliest academic references to positioning, as we now
understand it, Prof. Volney Stefflre described techniques that could be used to measure
consumers‘ perceptions of judged similarity between brands and products and thus give
them a position in a given market. Addressing a symposium on the application of the
sciences to marketing in 1966, stefflre described research, which showed, that brands and
products which were judged to be highly degree of competition and substitution. His
work has been credited as being among the first applications of multidimensional scaling
to marketing a subject, which we shall presently discuss.
Stefflre pointed out, in the work referred to earlier, how these techniques could be used to
prospect for ‗holes‘ or ‗blank spaces‘ for new products or brands in a product class. They
help a multi-product firm to develop new products that would
…. Position themselves in the market in a manner that makes them substitutable for and
competitive with competitors‘ brands while not cannibalizing the firm‘s own related
Shortly afterwards, Norman L Barnett, writing in the Harvard business Review in
January-February 1969, talked of the nrrd to go beyond market segmentation‘; that is ,go
beyond our understanding of homogeneous consumer groupings and shift the focus to
‗‘consumer‘s perception of products‘‘
Positioning of brands is how ‗close‘ each brand is to every other brand. Thus brand
positions constitute a framework or market structure…
According to Bernett, new product introduction becomes the search for a position in the
market, which is preferred over the products currently available.
The definition that we have given in the previous chapter points to the four basic
components of the positioning concept:
1. Product class or the structure of the market in which our brand will compete.
2. Consumer segmentation
3. Consumer perception of our brand in relation to competitors, which leads to
4. The benefits offered by the brand. These benefits may also be expressed as
attributes or dimensions along which brands are ‗fitted‘ to represent consumer
These four components of the positioning concept are so closely interwoven
that they must be taken together when we consider the positioning of a brand.
1. product class
A product class or product market can be defined as the set of products and brands
which are perceived as substitutes to satisfy some specific consumer need. The term,
product category, is also used interchangeably with product class and product market.
Research in India has shown that as middle-income and organized sector blue-collar
families earn more and move up on the social ladder, they are faced at bonus time
with the choice of buying TV set or a fridge.
Such examples, however, merely point to the fluid nature of product market
boundaries; they do not do away with cannot put the positioning concept to work
unless we get to grips with its very first component – the product class: which other
brands must our brand contend with in order to lodge itself in the target consumer‘s
perceptual space? In other words, what is the structure of the market or set of
substitutes amongst which our brand is to be positioned?
Consumer judgements of similarity and substitution can form the basis for defining a
product market or product category and are likely to be more reliable than categories
defined by industry classification.in India, low-cost detergent powders would
undoubtedly be grouped with higher-priced powders in the category of ‗washing
powders.‘there is little doubt, however, that these low-cost powders such as Nirma,
Wheel and Hippolin have also been positioned by consumers against the traditional
(oil based) laundry soaps and bars and have been perceived by them as substitutes for
such laundry soaps.
it is not difficult to presume that a telegraphic message is, in some ways, positioned
against and competes with a long distance telephone call. However, research into
consumers‘ judgements of similarity may show that telegraphic deliveries compete more
–that is, are perceived as a closer substitute of –‗speedpost‘ or courier services than of
If we consider the product class of chocolates, cadbury‘s, Amul and Campco are clearly
positioned against one another. If we consider the ‗product class‘ of festival season gifts,
consumers may position a decorative box of chocolates against packaged and branded
halwa and even, perhaps, a poket transistor.
For instance, ponds‘ cold creams‘ compertable position seems to have been suddenly
challenged by a brand from another product class altogether. The first appearance of
lakme‘s Wnter Cre Ltion ad may well have come as a rude shock—being described as a
‗reasy cold cream‘by this violator of traditional boundaries which claims to boot,that it is
―oldcream + moisturizer in one‖and is ―o much more than cold cream.‖
one cannot think of ‗positioning‘ a product or a brand expect in relation to a particular
target segment. You position a Bank fixed Deposit for those investors who prize security
along with a moderate return. You position an ‗un-fixed Deposit‘ for similar investors but
who, in addition, would prefer easy liquidity for their deposits without undue loss of
if you wanted to broaden the market for Bank Fixed Deposits by appealing also to those
investors who favour high returns and are willing to shoulder risks, your only hope is to
position Bank Fixed Deposits in terms of a ‗portfolio‘ of investments in which high-
return and high-risk investments are balanced with moderate-reyurn, no-risk investments,
plus tax benefits.
In fact, either management judgement or research can led to defining yet another segment
of investors as thos who want the best of both the words-a high return with low or
‗manahed‘ risk. Unit trust‘s ‗Mastershare‘ was positioned for just such a segment,
followed by Canara Bank‘s ‗Canshares‘ and State Bank‘s Magnum‘ shares. What, you
may wish to debate, is the difference in the positioning of these three ‗brands‘ of
investment? What is the ‗distance‘ between them as perceived by investors?
when marketers and advertising professionals began to display their interest in the
perceptions of target consumers segments, the next natural step was to measure those
perceptions. This constituted an open invitation to mathematical psychologists to move
in—which they did! Today, you cannot play the positioning game without ‗perceptual
what perceptual mapping does is to represent consumer perceptions—in (uaually) two-
dimensional space so that the manager can readily see where his own brand is positioned
in the mind of his prospect and in relation to other brands. The concept of the consumer‘s
perceptual space forms the theoretical basis of positioning. It is this concept which
distinguishes positioning and sets it apart as a major contribution of marketing theory and
practice. Perceptual mapping helps to make this concept operational.
Although the judgments of managers, sales staff or the trade may be used to plot brand
positions in the consumer‘s perceptual space, it is not advisable to substitute them for
consumer judgments, which can only be obtained through field research.
Consumers are asked to rate a set of brands along given attributes or benefits or they may
be asked merely to judge, by pairs, how similar or dissimilar the brands are.
4.BRAND ATTRIBUTES AND BENEFITS
The physical existence of a brand is no assurance that it has a position in the target
consumer‘s mind. To enter that coveted territory—the consumer‘s perceptual space—and
to secure a ‗position‘ there the brand must satisfy his question: ―what‘s in it for me?‖ it
must offer a benefit which is of importance to him. This is elementary. So, when we talk
of brand attributes, we must remember that these are the manufacturer‘s views of the
brand. The consumer‘s frame of reference requires that those manufacturer‘s claim or
brand attributes be translated into consumer benefits in order to map consumer
perceptions. Thus, when we talk of positioning a brand with reference to an attribute or
when we ask a consumer to rate a brand along an attribute, we must reinterpret that
attribute as a meaningful consumer benefit.
Blue detergent powders gradually edged out the perceived importance of ‗blues‘ in the
Indian washing products market. The comeback of Robin Blue for the modern housewife
as Robin Liquid might be linked in the manufacturers viev to the fact that it has features
or attributes such as a ‗flouresecer‘ and ‗ultramarine‘ but these attributes can enter the
housewife‘s frame of reference only if she can be persuated of their benefits to her;
washing powder take away the dirt but robin liquid gives clothes that extra ‗coat of
white‘ and in advertising terms these becomes ‗the whiteness dip‘
After washing clothes with powders, give them that dip in robin liquid for extra
In a sense, robin liquid‘s advertising had to modify the housewife‘s frame of reference by
increasing the ‗saliance‘ of extra whiteness of clothes above and beyond what detergent
powders can do- cleaning clothes but leaving them some what off- white
With this positioning strategy, robin liquid achieved a trial rate of 25% among the target
segement in madras, where it was test launched, after just 12 exposures over TV. In
culcutta, the percentage of trial among target households was 14% after the same
numbers of exposures. It may be noted that madras consumers were some what more
familier with liquid blues than in culcutta.
Where we are- where we should be
It is not enough that we plot the existing positions of brands along crtain dimensions-
brand attributes and benefits. This, by itself, is a passive act. It tells us where we are but
not where we should be and neither can we judge whether we are where we should be.
For this we need to plot not only consumer perceptions but also the preferences of a
given consumer segment in a particular category or product market. Consumers can
express such preferences only in terms of benefits: to what degree they are obtaining a
specific benefit from existing brands; how important this benefit is to them; whether there
is some benefit which they are missing; whether they would prefer to obtain a specific
benefit in greter or lesser measure. Such preferences are also termed ‗ideal points‘ when
plotted on a perceptual map.
The techniques of obtaining such preferences from consumer through research and
locating their preferred position (or ideal poits) will be examined in chapter 11.
Let us consider at this stage the purposes of plotting such preferred or idealpositions.
And let us consider by way of example, the premium toilet soap market .
Look at the hypothetical map showing consumer perceptions of some of the
prominent brands of premium toilet soaps in India. ‗premium‘, as defined for ratail audit
purposes, includes soaps priced in 1988 above Rs 4.50 for 100 g. lower-priced soaps (like
lux and hamam) fall into the ‗popular‘ category. The dimensions of the map are based on
a market analysis done by Response.
The pursuit of Differential Advantage
CORNERSTONES OF POSITIONING STRATEGY
POSITIONING IS THE PURSUIT OF DIFFERENTIAL ADVANTAGE.
Brands can create franchises of loyal consumers only when they are seen to be different
in some way which is persuasive for the target segment. Recall that famous article by
Prof. Levitt, ―Marketing success through Differentiation—of Anything‖. There is no such
thing as a commodity, he argues. All goods and services are differentiable.
We know that as brands tend to become physical similar—as the better mousetrap is
followed by a dozen me-too mousetraps more and more on non-functional factors to
distinguish his brand. Persuasive differentiation becomes an increasingly difficult task.
One of the major contribution of positioning theory to marketing strategy has been to
bring out the concept of ‗distance‘ and dissimilarity between brands in the perceptual
space‘ of the prospect and to uncover the many opportunities for such perceived
differentiation based upon the capabilities of the product and its antecedents.
Positioning puts in the hands of the brand manager an entire array of differentiating
strategies. He must judge which of these strategies can help him locate a niche in the
market where his brand may be perceived by his target segment as unique and where it
will hold a competitive advantage.
These strategies revolve around different aspects of the brand which can be expressed as
four questions posed on its behalf.
The four strategic questions are:
1. who am I?
2. what am I?
3. for whom am I?
4. why me ?
the answers to these would determine the brand‘s position in the prospect‘s mind. Let‘s
take a closer look at the four questions.
1.WHO AM I?
This question concerns the corporate credentials of the brand. The prospect is urgued to
think of the brand in terms of its origins, its family tree, the ‗stable‘ from which it comes;
the idea being that this can give the brand a competitive advantage.
Positioning by corporate identity
We see this most often with durables when a tried and trusted corporate identity or
source—which has become a household name for some products like Philips for radios
and lamps—is used to imply the competitive superiority of never products bearing that
name: Philips Mixies; Philips Electric Irons; Philips Refrigerators.
This can be such a strong positioning element that companies who market each brand
under a different name,e.g.Hindustan Lever(Surf,Sunlight and Wheel detergent powders;
Lifebouy , Pears, Lux, Rexona, Liril bath soaps) nevertheless introduce the corporate
credential as a byline:
A quality product of Hindustan Lever
The Tata oil Mils Company Ltd (TOMCO) endorses its brands(e.g.Hamam, Jai, OK,
Revel,501) with the words, ―A TATA Product‖ . so does the Godrej Company.
Positioning by Brand Endorsement
When a brand has proved very successful the marketer can exploit the strength of that
name for entering another product category. After the phenomenal success of Nirma
Washing Powder seemed logical to give the next entry-a detergent bar-the same brand
name. The third entry of this company-a toilet soap-also bears the same brand name. The
popular toilet soap market in India is very competitive with strongly entrenched brands
like Lux, Rexona, Hamam.Nirma bath soap enters this market with a credible,
competitive answer to the consumer‘s query,‖Who are you? Do I Know you?‖ C Merle
Crawford refers to this positioning strategy as ‗parentage‘.
Parentage.. because of where it comes from, who makes it, who sells it, who
performs it, etc. the three ways of parentage positioning are brand (Cadillac or
citizen printer), company (Data General/One or Kodak diskette), and person.
In such situations, marketing management has to find the right balance. How much of
parentage positioning will give the new brand a good start against competition? How
much will swamp its identity and prevent the prospect from recognizing a new and
This can be quite a thorny dilemma as you will find from this account of a new toothpaste
brand launched in 1984 as an extension of the Forhan‘s range.
For some time, Geoffrey Manners (who make and market the Forhan‘s range) had noted
with concern that their flagship brand—Forhan‘s Regular—was attracting fewer and
fewer of younger, urban consumers with modern tastes. At one time this was the No.2
brand in India after Colgate. With the launch of Forhan‘s Fluoride the total market share
of the company had increased but they still felt the absence of a brand which would carve
out a niche within the broad spectrum favouring Colgate(about 50% market share).
The positioning concept of the new brand was expressed as follows:
A high quality foaming toothpaste for modern, young people;it has a pleasing minty
teste and also gives the reassurance of care of the gums .
From this positioning concept arose the name: ‗Forhan‘s Freshmint‘. Getting down to
bress tacks, the company had to decide ―How much of forhan‘s? How much of
freshment?freshmint is what differentiated tha brand from its parent ;
The parentage positioning dilemma was this had the name forhan‖s over the years
acquird a highly therapeutic and stodgy image whtch whold detract from the mordenity
and taste appel of the new brand? Yet hcould the brand position it self not as a pimply
little me-too to colgate but as a strong contender for those young urben men and women
who could opt for a brand that tasted as good as colgate appealed to thire sense of
modernity and also promised them a meaningful difference compared to colgate?
The name forhan‖s was already well known and had a widely accepted association with
gum care if the power of this name did not back the new brand would it be easy to
challenge colgate with a brand which was totally unknown? Should forhan‖s be played
The first testing ground to resolve this dilemma was the pack design. Eventually, after
many designs, it was felt that the pack represented the optimal answer to the question:
―Who amI?‖ the ad which launched Forhans si seen in the samje exhibit.
2 what am I?
The positioning strategies around this question relate to the product‘s functional
capabilities. They offer the brand manager considerable scope for perceived brand
‘What am I?’ differentiating strategies can be group under;
(a)category- related positioning
(c)positioning by uses occasion and time
an important differentiating strategy when an existing product catogery is too crowded is
to take the same basic product and position it in another catogery, provided the attributes
the product can match consumers exceptions from that category. Your brand will then be
preicieved by prospects in a different light. This is reffered in to the jargon as ‗macro-
positioning or inter-set positioning‘.
If you are marketing a skimmed milk powder for instance the same basic product can be
(1)reconsitituted milk as we see in the hypothetical ‗akul home dairy‘ concept if this
position is already occupied you can position your brand as;
(2)a whitener for tea and coffe as in the ‗Akul Special‘ad- considering the growing
interest in physical fitness you can position it as:
(3) ‗Akul Weight-Watcher‖, the health-giving, low-calorie milk for the diet conscious
Again, following international trends you might decide to enter the breakfast foods
category and position your milk powder as:
(4) ‗Akul Instant Breakfast‘—remember we are talking of the same physical product in
four different incarnations. What are the implications of such category-related positioning
Once you have chosen the category in which to slot your brand , you should be prepared
for suitable modifications in the product and other elements of the marketing mix. If a
milk powder has to be positioned as a ‗whitener‘ for tea or coffe you will take great care
over its instant solubility. You may also introduce a creamier variety. For the ‗Home
Dairy‘ position, it should be readily soluble in hot and cold water without leaving lumps.
As an ‗instant breakfast‘ you may need to add vitamins and other nutrients and possibly,
flavours. It must also offer good taste.
Thus, once the category positioning decision is taken, the smart marketer will try to
modify the functional features of his existing brand to mesh more closely with that
position. If it is a brand he will design it from scratch so as to make it a perfect match
The packaging form for ‗Home Dairy‘ may be a mental can. For the ‗whitener‘ it may be
serving-size sachets. For ‗instant breakfast‘ it may be a glass jar.
Distribution modifications may be needed as well. The ‗weight-watcher‘ product may
also fit on chemists‘ shelves for example, and certainly in the emerging health-food
The category-related positioning decision determines the product market in which you
will operate. It defines your competition. You will wish to choose a category where there
are no strong competitors making your brand a ‗me-too‘. You may choose to enter a long
haul category because you believe it has a future, like ‗instant breakfast‘ or a food for the
In an ad for a capital issue which appeared in November 1988, a new company, the Amrit
Protein Foods Ltd, announced as its objective:
A complete line of fitness foods: Health and fitness are making big headlines these days.
And to meet the growing demand for new generation fitness foods, Amrit Protein will
manufacture a wide range of products: Soya Milk, Soya Milk Beverages, Soya Dessert,
and High Quality Soya Paneer.
Somebody evidently believes that there is a long-term future for beverages and foods
positioned in the categpry of fitness foods.
With this positioning decision, you are really making your bed and you must be prepared
to lie it. Repositioning id indeed possible and may sometimes be unavoidable. But it is
better to make a long-term decision in the first place.
The Maruti van, initially, positioned and advertised as a van. It was to compete against
Bajaj and Standard Vans. Later, it was renamed ‗Omni‘ and repositioned as the most
spacious car on the Indian roads. Its competition was with the other cars like the
Ambassador and Fiat and, indeed, the Maruti car itself. As a matter of fact, many
consumers had already placed the Maruti Van in this position in their minds, as shown by
their attitudes to it and the way they used it. Maruti Udyog Limited(MUL) was
recognizing this fact in their new advertising.
A well made product would usually offer more than one benefit. Promises of multiple
benefits, however, tend to get lost because they leave in the consumer‘s mind a vague and
diffused imprint. Successful consumer products promise one or at most two benefits and
brand franchises are created around those specific benefits. Thus we have the opportunity
for differentiation of similar products based on benefit positions which have not yet been
Consumers, who are similar in important ways, tend to cluster around the same benefits.
This enables differentiation in a product market and has been well documented as
Russel J Haley conducted a research among toothpaste users in the USA (1963) and
divided them into segments, each desiring a specific benefit from their brand of
toothpaste. He uncovered four such benefit segments and their respective brand choices:
Economy : Those who were looking for low price.
Cosmetic: Those who wanted white, bright teeth.
Taste: Those to whom taste mattered the most .
Medical: Those who were concerned about prevention of decay.
Each benefit seeking group or segment had certain common characteristics:
Demographic, psychograpic, and also behavioristic.
There is no published account of similar research on the toothpaste market in India.
Judged by their advertising, the benefit positions occupied or sought by major brands
would be approximately as follows:
Benefit position Brand
Cosmetic: White, bright teeth Close-Up
Fresh breath Colgate, Close-Up, Forhans Regular
Decay prevention Colgate, Colgate Flourigard, Binaca
Gum care and other therapeutic Forhans Regular, Promise, Neem
Decay prevention and tartar control crest
As you can see, colgate, the market leader by far, is positioned across a broad brand of
benefits. Others are positioned by more specific benefits.
A new differentiated positioning can be sought by offering a unique combination of
benefits. This was the thinking behind Forhans‘ Freshmint which offered the gum care
benefit for Forhans, plus the minty taste associated with Colgate.
The introduction of crest in the above table is pure speculation at this time (1989) on the
part of the author. But since Procter & Gamble (P&G) are now formally in India, one
may well expect this gifted brand to surface here.
Features of benefits
In some texts, the phrase ‗positioning by features and attributes‘ is also used and is
referred to separately from ‗benefits‘. For example, wind in his book on product policy
Positioning on specific product features:
Positioning a product by its performance on specific product attributes is among the most
common approaches to positioning, especially for industrial products… product feature
positioning can range from specific tangible benefits (such as chevette as the economy
car or VW‘s ‗Think small‘ to more abstract features such as Avis‘ ‗We Try Harder‘)
Positioning on benefits, problem solutions or needs:
Strongly linked to product features positioning is benefit positioning, which is more
effective than positioning which describes product features without their to the consumer.
It is clear from the even when positioning is based on a specific feature of a product, the
objective is or should be to position it in terms of the benefit flowing from that featureof
a product, the objective is or should be to position it in terms of the benefit flowing from
that feature or attribute. There is no contradiction between the two because consumers
buy benefits not features. Even industrial product purchasers buy solution to problems
and not attributes per se. features become important to the consumer only when they lead
to that special benefit which the consumer seeks.
The importance of a brand‘s physical features or attributes in the context of positioning
lies more in offering a convincing ‗reason-why‘ the brand will indeed deliver the
promised benefit. We will, therefore, look at ‗positioning by product features‘ with
regard to the brand‘s question, ‗why choose me?‘ later in this article.
In some cases the tangible, functional differences between brands would be substantial
and these are situations where the marketer has the inestimable advantage of a USP (
Unique Selling Proposition) enabling him to promise a benefit which others do not or
cannot. This would be true of Forhans Regular or Close –Up toothpaste, for instance.
But even when the physical characteristics or attributes of brands are similar, benefits-
related positioning enables the brand manager to create a perceived differentiation
between basically like products.
Let us take the example of a hypothetical chocolate malt-based beverage and let us
christen it ‗Brown-Vita‘. At least four strong positions can be created around the basic
formulation or physical characteristics of the product. For the sake of our example, we
will use the same brand name throughout this example but each of these positions can be
filled by a distinct brand commanding its own loyal segment. Thus, our brand, Brown-
Vita, can be positioned in the health beverage category as a chocolate-based drink which
has a lot of good taste.
The health drink that‘s full of taste Or we can position Brown-Vita as the
energy drink emphasizing its carbohydrate
The health drink packed with Energy Or Brown-Vita can be positioned for its
natural goodness. We would make much
of its ingredients—malt, milk, cocoa—and
stress the absence of artificial ingredients.
It would be:
The health drink full of Natural Goodness And finally, we might highlight the non-
fattening properties of Brown- Vita as
well as its proteins and vitamins to
promise the benefit of low calories plus
The health drink high in Nourishment and
low in Calorie.
There are four major brands belonging to
this category of cocoa and malt-based
health beverages which are presently
marketed in India:
When we talk of benefit-related positioning, we must remember that a brand is a
composite entity and the position which the consumer gives it in her mind represents her
perception of the brand in terms of its tangible or functional benefits and also its non-
functional or emotional benefits.
How do we handle the concept of emotional or non-functional benefit in the practical task
of creating a distinct and persuasive for the brand?
Although the concept is now will accepted by marketing and advertising practitioners,
applying the concept to create a persuasive difference between functionally similar
brands is a more complex task .
Positioning by usage occasion and time of use
Positioning by usage occasion or application is another strong differentiating strategy
within the ambit of the question, ‗what am I?‘. If a brand employs this strategy well, it
can virtually pre-empt that particular usage. Find a strong usage position and sit on
it…for instance, the condensed milk brand, Milkmaid has come to dominate the dessert
usage position so strongly that it cannot be easily dislodged by a competitor.
Cadbury‘s drinking chocolate experimented with two usage positions:
The relaxing way to end your day: The Good Night Cup; and shortly afterwards…
Now is the time to sit back and put up your feet… making this the happiest time
of your day with Cadbury‘s Drinking Chocolate.
As you see, usage occasion and time of use, or when to use, are often combined.
The reason for a abandoning the Goodnight Cup position is not known. Can it be that this
position was not given a proper trial? In these days of stress, tension, high pressures of
work and competition, this represents in our view a potential valuable usage position in
the branded beverage market in India.
An exceptionally single-minded usage positioning strategy, linked also the time of use, is
the positioning of Vicks vaporub to be applied for a child‘s cold, at night. Many have
tried to breach this position and failed. Vicks Vaporub has made this usage position
virtually unassailable. We shall look at this striking example in greater depth in chapter 6
Burnol antiseptic ointment is for burns and strong entrenched for that usage. Dettol
antiseptic is for nicks and cuts, insect bites and other minor infections . Each of these
brands has set on its usage position for decades without any serious challenger . if you
have found position for your brand, sit on it, make it your domain .
Interestingly, dettol soap, relaunched in 1984, has made headway in the criwded premium
toilet soap market by adopting a strategy of creating and dominating a specific usage
occasion . This is the occasion when you feel particularly sticky or dirty or grimy and
would respond to the idea of a ‗100%bath‘ .
This makes dettol more like a soap for a middle of the morning bath after a grueling visit
to the bazaar or the after-work bath at the end of a long hard day . this is a courageous
decision-having the boldness to dominate a specific usage market – ‗A high quality soap
for a bath‘ – or aim for an extremely narrow usage, ‗the antiseptic bath soap‘ .
With this positioning, dettol soap has climbed from 1.7% market share before its relaunch
in 1984 to 3.7% share in 1988 . this compares with 4.5% market share of a well-
established, long-time brand like pears . a selective usage position may turn out to be
quite profitable after all, if it attracts an adequate number of consumer and you dominate
the position .
Product line positioning by usage
To minimize cannibalization, as we said in chapter 3, marketers adopt different positions
for their brands in the same product category. Differentaition by usage occasion is one
such strategy .
Union carbide‘s eveready (dry cell) batteries provide a good example. Till the seventies,
over 95% of the total battery demand came from torch and transistor usage. However,
since the eighties, there has been a boom in the population of cassette tape recorders,
two-in-ones, cameras using photoflash guns, battery-operated toys, calculators and other
sophisticated equipment like TV remote controls, hearing aids, etc. these equipments are
normally high drain devices and they consume more electrical energy per unit of time
compared to equipment like torches and transistors. In addition, since these equipments
are high value products, the need is more pronounced for a battery which is ‗safe‘ , i.e.
less prone to leakages .
To meet this demand union carbide developed a battery in 1985 using zinc chloride
technology . pricing for the product was fixed at a 20% higher level than red eveready,
the company‘s premium brand in the standard range . the pricing was arrived at after
considering value to the consumer and price-elasticity. The following comparative table
highlights the price-performance benefits of this product in relation to the best ‗standard‘
torch transistor Photoflash
New battery 120 125 120 200 200
AA Size Performance Indices
100 100 100 100 100
The company and its agency, Rediffusion, then considered the following positioning
1. The Most Leakproof Battery Available in India
To carry conviction one would have to compare it to standard batteries including red
eveready. Also, 100% leakproof performance could not be guaranteed.
2. The Superior Modern Technology Position
Valid, but again this would have involved a comparison with red evready. Besides, the
competitive edge would be diminished when other brands like Novino and Nippo
3. performance positioning
This could be a legitimate and strong positioning, but more than any of the other
alternatives, this position would hurt Union Carbide more than its competitors. It would
have implied the infirmity of the Eveready Standard range (Red, Blue and White) which
comprised 45% of the total battery market.
4. End-Use Based Positioning
Market research studies conducted for batteries had clearly indicated that consumers have
a definite hierarchical perception of quality relative to end-use for the battery. For
example, a transistor is perceived to be higher order equipment than a torch and hence if
a battery is said to be designed specially for transistor usage, it is superior to a battery
made for torches.
Research data had also indicated that in the hierarchy of equipments, photoflash
equipment was at the top, followed by cassette tape recorders (CTRs) and other
motorized gadgets. Transistors came next, with torches at the bottom of the rung.
Positioning this battery as a product for ‗modern machines‘, i.e. CTRs, photoflash
equipment and other motorized equipment would have allowed consumer beliefs
regarding the equipment hierarchy to rub off on to the new product and would definitely
help to position the product as a top-of-the-line battery, without endangering Eveready‘s
standard-line volumes/market share.However, a focus on end-use equipment to prove
performance superiority could only be effective if the consumer were given a ‗reason-
why‘ to believe the claim. The substantiation of this product claim lay in its zinc chloride
technology. The technology linkage provided not only the ‗reason-why‘ but also created