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Product Positioning, Pricing, and Brand Management

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What comes to mind when you hear someone mention the Beverly Hills Hotel? How about when someone discusses his or her stay at the Ritz Carlton? Most likely you are thinking about high-end, luxurious, expensive, and exclusive places to stay. What do you think of when you hear "Marriott Courtyard" or even "Motel 6"? While Marriott Courtyard hotels may bring to mind moderately priced comfort, Motel 6 is equated with inexpensive, no frills. These are examples of product positioning; or, the message marketers send about what their product does and how it can solve your customers' challenges. Is there any question about what the Beverly Hills Hotel offers their customer? On the other end of the product positioning spectrum is Motel 6, which answers the need for economy-motivated customers.

5. Product Positioning Messages

Product positioning is crucial to the market's perception of a company's product, and it offers firms the opportunity to affect how customers perceive a product. It's the message a company sends to their target customer that says, "buy me because I'm exactly what you want and need." Failure to properly position a product, or leaving product positioning to chance results in the marketplace positioning your product for you. By leaving product positioning to chance, a company allows their competitors to position the product, and it won't be flattering. Because consumers are relentlessly bombarded with advertising and marketing messages, it is absolutely imperative that a firm's product positioning sends a clear, concise, and meaningful message to the target customer, so the customer can cut through the mire and hear what the product has to say to them.

6. Positioning characteristics

Based on what you've learned so far, it should be obvious that the goal of product positioning is to place your product at top of your customers' mind while they're considering a purchase. To do this, firms must achieve three objectives:

* Differentiate your product from the competition

* Address important customer buying criteria

* Articulate key product (or company) characteristics

Marketing messages have a direct relationship to product positioning. While developing product positioning strategies, it is important to compare the product to the following list of characteristics.

Your product positioning strategy should be:

* Single-minded; ask yourself if your product positioning strategy delivers one primary message at a time?

* Meaningful; does it connect with the target audience?

* Differentiating; does it highlight your strengths against the competition?

* Important; is it relevant and significant to the target audience?

* Sustainable; will it resound with the target audience well into the future?

* Believable; will it ring true with the target audience?

* Credible; -can you concisely substantiate your claims?

7. Positioning strategies

Let's examine some tried and true product positioning strategies.

* Positioning a Product Against a Competitor: This typically requires a specific product superiority claim. A memorable and clever example is Avis Rental Cars' We're #2. We try harder.

* Positioning a Product Away from a Competitor: Remember when 7-Up referred to itself as the "Uncola?" This is a good example of how to position a product as the opposite of the competition.

* Emphasizing Benefits: This requires focusing your product positioning strategy on a benefit your product provides to your target audience. The Mac versus PC commercial is a great example in which Mac delivers their message on how their benefits outshine the PC.

* Product Attributes: Emphasizing a specific attribute of a product can also be compelling. For example, the BMW automobile focus is on luxury; the Toyota Prius focuses on economy.

8. Positioning Strategies (Con't.)

* Product Categories: Firms can effectively differentiate their product by comparing it to a product in a different category. For example when a soap compares itself to lotion, such as when Palmolive dishwashing liquid claims that it softens you hands while you do the dishes.

* Usage Occasions: A great example of positioning a product to focus on when or how your product is used by your target audience is Jeep's focus on off-road driving.

* Users: A consumer who wants to learn how to enjoy wine, or use a computer, or even file for divorce are well-served by the "Dummies" series of instruction books. By focusing on the unique characteristics of specific users, this series of books appeals to folks who want to learn about a topic from a source that doesn't assume any prior knowledge on the reader's part.

9. Positioning Triangle

Product differentiation is the goal of product positioning. Marketers want to position a product to address the target customer's buying criteria in order to convey key product attributes. To achieve these objectives, companies must have an in-depth understanding of:

* How their target market makes purchasing decisions

* How their competition positions their products

* What their product has to offer

These elements represent the positioning triangle and all three have to be in balance for firms to attain competitive advantage.

10. Product Positioning and Market Segmentation

If it seems that product positioning is closely related to market segmentation focus, you are correct. When considering product positioning, marketers creating a unique, consistent, and recognized customer perception about a product or business. Like market segment focus, a product can be positioned based on an attitude or benefit, use or application, user, class, price, or level of quality. Product positioning targets a product to specific market segments, therefore the same product can be and should be positioned in many different ways.




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