Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP) constitute the fundamental pillar of any marketing function. Now we have completed our discussion on segmentation and targeting. The marketing manager needs to decide which segment to enter and how to target that segment with a product offered through a selection of a market segment and target marketing strategy.
The next step is to decide the company’s product offer and which image the company would like its customers to develop. The challenge is to decide what position the company wants its products to occupy in the selected segment(s).
A product’s position is the definition that a consumer gives to the product on important attributes. It is the position in the perceptual space of the consumer’s mind that the product takes in relation to competitors’ products, which is often verbalized by customers on certain attributes.
Positioning is an act of developing the company’s offerings and image to occupy a distinct place in the minds of the target market. Positioning is a consumer-driven strategy in which the objective is to occupy a unique place in the customer’s mind and maximize its potential benefit for the firm.
Positioning helps brand managers to identify the core meaning of the brand and communicate these core meanings as unique to the brand.
The end result of a positioning strategy is a distinct value proposition – a reason for which the customer would buy the product. According to Jack Trout and Al Ries brand positioning is related not to what the marketing manager does with the product, it is what the marketing manager does to the mind of the prospects.
The marketing manager should determine what similarity and difference the brand has with other brands and then communicates these differences to the customers.
Positioning can be done in various ways, as mentioned below:
- Positioning by product attribute: Positioning in this way focuses on one or two of the product’s best features/benefits, relative to the competitive offerings.
- Positioning by use/application of the product: The product/brand is positioned in terms of how it is used in the market by consumers, indicating that the product is the best solution for that particular task/use.
- Positioning against competitor: The firm would directly compare (or sometimes just imply), a comparison against certain well-known competitors (but not generally not the whole product class as above).
- Positioning by quality or value: Some firms will position products based on relatively high quality, or based on the claim that they represent significant value.
- Positioning by product class: This positioning strategy tends to take a leadership position in the overall market. Statements with the general message of “we are the best in our field” are common.
Brand positioning involves implanting the brand’s unique benefits and differences in the customer’s mind. Maggi noodles are positioned in the Indian market as a convenience food, which can solve the frequent food demand of the growing kids.
Dove soap is positioned as a premium brand in the market with high moisturizer content, which can also be used as a face wash. Vicks Vaporub is positioned as a rub exclusively for the purpose of cold and cough relief. Coca-Cola is positioned as a beverage that gives relief from the heat (thanda matlab ‘Cola-Cola’).