Positioning a brand – reckoning competitor’s/leader’s positioning


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 brand’s position from the consumer’s mind; Coca-Cola is synonymous with Cola, Xerox with photocopying and Walkman is practically a generic name for personal stereo. So, any newcomer to these businesses 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 consumer’s mind. If somebody asks you which is the highest mountain peak in the world, the answer will be immediate. Which is the second highest mountain? One may not remember. Through a series of such questions, the authors drive home the point that ‘the first mountain, the first company, the first product to occupy the position in the mind is hard to dislodge.’

To illustrate further, throughout the world, among computer customers, IBM holds, a dominant position. Other 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 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 Adapted

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 the right positioning. Even if the positioning is right at the launch and early 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 to succeed, it must be based on an identifiable, meaningful and compelling value proposition.

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.