Positioning – it’s all the rage! But beware….

Product positioning is an important aspect of marketing; in today’s ever-cluttered world of marketing and advertising a product/brand must have a clear benefit or competitive position in the marketplace to successfully differentiate itself from the competition.  Even if a marketer does partake in positioning a product, it does not mean that the positioning will be successful every time. Common mistakes in positioning CAN happen.

Under-positioning is disadvantageous to a brand or product because marketers do not position it strongly enough.  They do not associate the brand/product with a clear benefit or competitive edge so that consumers know what exactly sets it apart from other competitors. Therefore, consumers may not have a strong connection with a brand and instead buy products from the competition because they don’t know what advantages it will provide them.  For example, the Flip video camera was discontinued because they did not establish a good positioning strategy against mobile video cameras that were easier to use. Consumers were not willing to buy an extra device when they already had one on their mobile phone.

Over-positioning can happen when there is too much focus on position, ultimately giving the audience a too narrow depiction of the product.  This mistake can ultimately alienate consumers from the product, creating a narrow group of customers that can actually identify with it.  If the target audience is too small it limits potential consumers of the product.

Confused positioning happens when marketers either change their position too often or has benefits that contradict each other that an audience becomes confused of what the product actually offers.

Apple is the first company that comes to mind when I consider successful positioning strategies. During Apple’s lifespan it has successfully positioned itself in the mind of consumers as the company on cutting-edge technology innovation with an ease-of-use appeal and design that is for individuals who think differently. Apple offers a sense of prestige, stature and creativity.  Companies, consumers and admirers all look to Apple for the newest and coolest products and accessories. Their products are not only visually sleek and simple, but their software also oozes the simplicity that other systems so often forget. The “Get A Mac” campaign emphasizes the creativity and well-thought-out design of Apple products. Apple differentiated itself from conservative PC brand by offering products that would enable creative individuals an outlet to get their creative juices flowing.  When I see someone that has a Mac, I assume that they are creative, liberal, innovative, and have a some-what higher amount of disposable income. Their product differentiation has been extremely successful and has given them accolades such as “the world’s most valuable company” in August and having more money than the U.S. government.

One thing is for certain: a brand must have a clear position in the marketplace to be successful.