Positioning Analysis

Position on User: This approach associates the product with a user or a class of users. Some cosmetics companies seek a successful, highly visible model as their spokesperson (Christie Brinkley for Cover Girl) as the association for their brand. Other brands may pick a lesser known model to portray a certain lifestyle in its ads (Revlon’s Charlie cosmetic line, for example). With its humorous sports personalities Miller beer has been very successful in positioning itself as a beer for the heavy user who dislikes that filled up feeling. A company may sometimes need to appeal to new users as it shifts markets. Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo now presents adult users as well as babies in its ads. Because users and usage situations are related, they may often be linked in an ad.

Position against competition:

Often, success for a company involves looking for weak points in the positions of its competitors and then launching marketing attacks against those weak points. In this approach, the marketer may either directly or indirectly make comparisons with competing products. For example, the famous “Uncola” campaign successfully positioned 7-Up as an alternative to Coke, Pepsi and other colas (almost two thirds of soft drinks consumed in the United States are colas). Notice, this brand confronted a situation of special usage positioning. For instance, it was originally thought of as hangover cure, and it is still viewed as a special occasion beverage, for an occasion other than a cola time. Other classic examples of this positioning strategy include Burger King versus McDonald’s (over broiling versus frying) and Hertz versus Avis.

The marketer may use several techniques for determining the appropriate positioning for a brand. Whether the band is new or old, focus groups and depth interviews may be helpful in providing insights from consumers. In addition, survey and experimental research approaches may provide useful positioning data. Lifestyle information and a technique known as perceptual mapping can also be helpful in positioning decisions.

Lifestyle Positioning:

Consumer AIOs can be used in designing a marketing strategy for potential markets. This approach is illustrated by positioning for the volunteer army. The army found dramatic differences between young men favoring and those not favoring the army as a career. Data suggest that it may be a mistake to position the army as a continuous party in which discipline is relaxed and nobody is required to stand in line, clean rooms, follow orders, or shoot guns. Young men and women who agree that the army is a good appear to be unusually patriotic and conservative and are willing to accept hard work, discipline and direction.

Perceptual Mapping:

The above discussion suggests that consumer’s perceptions of products are developed in a complex way and are not easily determined by the marketer. However a technique known as perceptual mapping may be used in exploring consumers’ product perceptions. Since products can be perceived on many dimensions (such as quality, price, and strength) the technique is multi-dimensional in nature. That is, it allows for the influence of more than one stimulus characteristic on product perceptions. Typically consumers fill out measuring scales to indicate their perceptions of the many characteristics and similarities of competing brands. Computer programs analyze the resulting data to determine those product characteristics or combination of characteristics that are most important to consumers in distinguishing between competing brands. Results of this analysis can be plotted in terms of perceptual maps which display how consumers perceive the brands and their differences on a coordinate system.

By plotting strong areas of consumer demand on the map, car maker can determine whether its autos are aimed at the right target. And from the concentration of dots representing competitive brands, a marketer can tell how much competition will be met in a particular segment on the map. As a result of such analysis, Chrysler decided that Plymouth, Dodge, and Chrysler all needed to present a more youthful image and that Plymouth and Dodge should also move up significantly on the luxury dimension. Such a map also be used to position individual models (both current and future). Sometimes changing the styling price or advertising can move a model into an unoccupied space on the map, thus carving out a distinctive market niche.