Issues in Product positioning and Brand positioning

It is evident that for any product, before entering the market, it has to sequentially carry out the two exercise product (category) positioning, and brand positioning. As already mentioned, in the first step, the product category where the new entrant should meter and compete, i.e. against what all products it has to compete, has to be decided. In this step, it is the 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 of the new entrant against competing brands in the chosen product category has to be analyzed and fixed. In short, the issues that are raised in product category positioning and brand positioning are different.

Issues in product Positioning:

1. Where is the new offer going to compete? As what?
2. Which product function/customer need is it trying to meet?
3. What other product categories serve this need? In other words, what are the substitute products that serve the same need?
4. Where is the real gap, where is such a new offer most welcome and wanted by the make?
5. What are the company’s competencies to fight here?

In fact, these are the issues the firm agitates in target market selection too. The linkage is only natural because in product positioning, the firm is actually bridging the product offer with he right target market.

Issues in Brand Positioning: In deciding the brand positioning, the issues are:

1. Which are the competing brands in the chosen product category?
2. What are the unique claims/strengths of the various bands?
3. What position do they enjoy in consumer’s evaluation and perception?
4. 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?
5. What is the most favored position and yet vacant?
6. Can the new brand claim the needed distinction and take the position ad satisfy that need?

Perceptual Mapping for Studying Positioning possibilities:

Perceptual mapping is a widely used technique in deciding positioning. With this technique the target consumers’ perception of the various brands in the given product category are found and plotted, and a perceptual map developed. It helps understand the position the new brand can take. Different MR techniques like image profile analysis, factor analysis and multi dimensional scaling are used in perception mapping.

Product Repositioning: Products do undergo ‘repositioning’ as they go along their life cycle. In some cases, even products that are faring well are repositioned. This is done mainly to enlarge the reach of the product offer and to increase the sale of the product by appealing to a wider target market. The product is provided with some new features or it is associated with some new uses, and is repositioned for existing as well as new target segments.

Milkmaid is a good example if repositioning. When the product was introduced in the sixties, it was positioned as a convenient form of milk for use in tea and coffee. When the sales reached a plateau in the 1980s, the company studied the situation in detail and decided to reposition it as a product for all uses involving milk. A well planned advertising campaign was launched, repositioning Milkmaid as an ideal ingredient for a variety of sweets and other preparations, in addition to using daily in tea/coffee.

Tanishq: finding the apt positioning for a product is certainly not easy; a proper balancing of several issues is involved. Titan Tanishq is an apt example. Titan a firm, that has created waves in the Indian watch market with its quartz watches and has been consistently receiving complements from all quarters for its marketing excellence, made some crucial mistakes when it set out to market its Tanishq brand jewelry.

Titan found that the jewelry sales lagged far behind its projections. It identified wrong positioning as the reason for the poor show. Titan admitted that positioning of Tanishq has not generated the kind of volumes we expected. The jewelry should have had a much wider appeal than it enjoyed with the present positioning.

Repositioning of Complan: The story of Complan illustrates more comprehensively the issues in product positioning. Glaxo was going through a trial and error situation with respect to Complan. It took quite a few years for Glaxo to arrive at a successful positioning for Complan.

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