What is product positioning?
Product positioning (or “positioning”) is a marketing concept that refers to the consumer perception and reputation of a certain product. The aim is to create a memorable image around a product and highlight its main features, benefits and other advantages that set it apart from its competitors. Product positioning is not limited to one image of the product - various target audiences can perceive the same product in different ways.
The importance of product positioning
Simply put, you want your target audience to remember your product among so many others flooding the global market. People tend to forget most of the advertisements they see, which is why the way you position your product or brand is such an important part of your marketing strategies. If positioned effectively, your products will stand a higher chance of resonating with your target audience, and they will therefore be more likely to take action and purchase your offering.
The product positioning process
Product positioning is actually the last step of a broader type of marketing called STP (or in other words, “segmentation, targeting and positioning”). It can be a lengthy process for a small business, but an important one that can maximize your marketing capabilities.
Here are the three stages of STP:
Market Segmentation: The relevant market is segmented into sub-groups of customers. For example, a children's clothing store's customers are (most likely) parents - but not all parents share the same desires when it comes to their children's clothes. Some of them want the clothes to be cheap and dispensable; some prefer them to be eco-friendly; others need high-quality fabrics, and the list goes on.
Targeting: After evaluation, a certain segment (or segments) is chosen as the target audience.
Positioning: An analysis of the target audience's wants and needs is carried out, in order to understand what positioning would appeal to them. Then, you can start working on carefully crafted branding messages that create the positioning in the consumers' minds.
During the positioning stage, the first step is to select a positioning type and stick to it. There are three main types that you can choose from depending on the key benefits your product has to offer compared to the competition. However, you can also incorporate multiple positioning types if applicable.
The three positioning types include:
Experiential: This kind of positioning applies to products that provide a unique user experience that goes beyond the actual product. For example, if your children's clothing store offers an exciting shopping experience for children and parents alike, this is what your positioning should focus on.
Symbolic: When key features of your product speak to your target audience's core values, let them know about it through product positioning. Following the previous example, any environmentalist parent would be thrilled to learn that your store offers eco-friendly children's clothing.
Functional: This is more of a straightforward positioning, wherein the product solves a significant issue for your target audience.
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How to write a positioning statement
Once you understand what kind of product positioning you want to create, write a positioning statement. Take a piece of paper and write a couple of sentences about what distinguishes your product from its competitors. Don't worry about the phrasing - it's not part of your marketing copy just yet - but think about the emotion this statement will provoke for your target audience.
This statement should be used in every written communication to your customers, from marketing material, to your website and day-to-day communication. It doesn't have to feature the statement verbatim, but it should harness the same message.
Additionally, this statement should be used when your employees provide service to your customers. They should relay the same message and make sure it's consistent. For example, if your product's positioning statement focuses on eco-friendly children's clothing, your employees should relay this message when helping your customers.
A coherent, credible positioning statement is key in setting your product above the competition and making people remember it the way you want them to.