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Comparing Current Trends in Market Positioning

Introduction

Market positioning involves how organizations and companies put forward their products into the market for their consumers to see. The first thing to do is for the companies to clearly identify and define the target market segment before the actual entry into the market. The success of a company as regards to the product reception in the market entirely depend on how the product enters and is positioned in the market, this, therefore, means that organizations must scrutinize what messages and how these messages are delivered and to who they are meant for. Before developing any positioning strategy, every company should consider the position of the competitors who are major contributors to the success or failure of any news product launched (Hepting, 2005).

This will help in making a decision on whether to position themselves closer or away from the existing competitors, to offer direct comparison when customers purchase product and services. The marketing mix that involves 4Ps, the Product, Price, Place and Promotion which is employed by a company, determines the benefit the customers will derive from the product which is the positioning since positioning is about strategies on how a company desire consumers to view and perceive their products in the market (Ries, & Trout, 1986). The uniqueness of the product, proper execution of the plans, placing the product in the right marketplace and proper pricing dictates the success of the product.Positioning also involves changing people’s perceptions about products is one of the most important areas that places the product into consumer’s minds without too many advertisements.

Current Trends in Product Positioning

Current trends in product positioning involve identifying a market niche for a brand, product or service, by utilizing traditional marketing placement strategies which include price, promotion, distribution, packaging, and competition (Haueisen, 1981). The main current aim of positioning is for the marketers creates notion in the customers’ mind that their product is the best for the customer consumption through the use of product quality, advanced technology, market segmentation, product management and differentiation and global positioning to be able to reach as many people as possible. When the positioning is achieved, products sales volumes increase, the company will be accepted and will finally translate to increased revenues.

Technological Positioning, Web advertisement, Web sales

The growth of high technology marketing also has had a change in competitive positioning. An important element of hi-tech marketing is the use of the World Wide Web in positioning where major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing are used which can be realized through Search Engine Optimization (Hepting, 2005). This is an in particular vital component when trying to develop competitive positioning among a younger population, which tends be technologically well placed and embrace the web oriented shopping and purchasing practice due to their advantage of being exceedingly associated and involved in social media.

Millions of people around the world have accepted the use of World Wide Web in retrieving vital information related to education, security and general communication (Haueisen, 1981).This makes the World Wide Web the best platform to do advertisements and product placements with a reason that a simple run of the product will reach millions of people within a very short time. This will definitely work to the advantage of the company and being that many people in the minds tend to be associated with new technology, products from the company that is perceived to be technologically responsive will be accepted and purchased in volumes leading to high sales and profits.

Web sales that involve order and purchase of goods and services online is another current method of market positioning. Many consumers may not have time to physically go for the products from the manufacturing companies but instead, would require the goods and services be delivered at their door steps. This, therefore, means that such market segment can only be tapped when this market positioning is employed. This will prove whether or not a company’s management is proactive, reactive or passive as regards to the current process that concerns marketing positioning (Hepting, 2005). However, a company has a responsibility to absolutely influence the perceptions of customers through the use enlightened strategic actions.

Use of films is another technique that a number of firms are currently used in the market positioning of the products. These are the films that are run on the media giving the futures of the products and their strengths (Haueisen, 1981). Such films catch the attention of so many people and easily reach the target market. This is because many people don’t watch commercials but product positioning gaining momentum and reaching the right audience, and by the use of film and television more market segments are reached leading to the generation of revenues and high realization of profits.

Apart from the television, more people around the world use the YouTube and thus placement of the product through the YouTube is another current way of product placement. The use of video gamers employed by companies like Entertainment Media Works also has a great advantage in reaching people (Hepting, 2005). Currently, there are over 148 million gamers and as gamers become of age to parents and maintain to play games, older demographics become increasingly represented while raising the accomplishment of the video game. Product placement adds significance to the games! 70% of gamers assessed considered it a positive attribute that increased the practicality of the game (Hepting, 2005). Studies have also revealed that short-term evoke rate of brand names in video games is rising of 40%, with sports games attracting the lead with a 54%…..

The use of Bluetooth technology in marketing which is designed for wireless Area Networks (WPAN) which are connections between personal electronic devices in close proximity offers a quick platform to share information between customers about the current products and services offered in the market.

Global trends in product positioning

Companies are today employing several strategies to position their products and services global. The world today is a global village and with the emergence of online sales, organizations can market and sell their products from a central location anywhere in the world, all they need is the acceptance and recognition of their brands to be in business. To achieve brand recognition, capture markets and finally realize brand loyalty, western organizations have today segmented their markets into core markets and emerging markets.

Core markets

This is usually the America or European markets for companies in America and Europe respectively. In these markets, their brands are well known and most if not all of their previous revenues have been from these markets.

Emerging markets

These are markets in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Most companies are expanding to the international markets that were not tapped before in the bid to increase their presence globally and to reach more customers than before. This has been made successful by the use of the advanced technology in the transmission media that reaches more potential customers around the world at the same time through the internet’s, world wide web, YouTube and even social charting engines like the Facebook platform. This is because there is an influx in the number of products and companies that offer same of substitute products but targeting the same consumers.

Primary elements of product positioning

The position of a product or a company in the market depends on the definition of the product by clearly outlining the characteristics of the product. If this is not done, the competitors will take the advantage to define their product and use it to their advantage.

The primary elements of to be defined include:

  • Quality Positioning; Product quality is a major driving element in the product success. Many consumers attach a lot of value on the quality of the product or the service they are supplied with in the market and this is usually proved by the quality claims attached to the product like having customer friendly guarantees, warranties and return policies in case of any defects on the products identified by the customer after purchase. To achieve the superior quality level, companies are advised to employ the Six Sigma methodology that ensures 99.997% perfection level in the manufacturing and operational process (Haueisen, 1981). This technique ensures no or very minimal defects in the product released to the customer. Customers also want to see consistency in the product quality and to be sure to get the same product another day on demand.
  • Pricing; Consumers around the world want quality products, but at an affordable price which is neither too high nor too low. The value of the product should be commensurate to the benefit they receive in return. Companies perceived to be not overpricing their product which is of higher quality tend to win more customers that are viewed to be expensive.
  • Distribution; Companies reach more customers when they position their products in the places that are accessible to the consumers. The channel of distribution is part of positioning and should be efficient to ensure deliveries are done to the selling points or directly to the customers in time to give a competitive advantage against the competitors (Haueisen, 1981).Offering value-added customer service and support also position the company and its products well above the competitors.
  • Packaging; Proper packaging communicates the brands’ strength to the customers and the message passed in the packaging should communicate the intended information and should be neat and appealing. This should be done with full knowledge of the target market. Wholesale selling points need bulky packaging, unlike the retail outlets, that sell in smaller quantities.

Positioning is a perception that takes place in the minds of the target market, the aggregate perception the market has of a given company, product or service in comparison to the perceptions they hold on the competitors in the same group. This rating takes place whether or not a company’s management is passive, proactive, reactive or about the continuing process of developing a position.

However, the company can positively influence the perceptions through progressive strategic actions and processes to win the customers from the competitors. Companies should define the market they intend to capture or where their brand will compete. This is usually done by segmenting the target market to subgroups whose needs can be well satisfied by the product.

Market segmentation is usually done depending on age, gender and interest. (Haueisen, 1981). If the target market is the youths, the product and the marketing strategy should suit the youthful lifestyles, instead of employing mass marketing that generalizes all groups. Companies should as well define their product space to take into considerations the new adjustments in the changing needs and changing taste and preferences of the customers. This ensures that the company does not become irrelevant and irresponsive to the customer demands. Information should also be collected from customers to give feedback about their perceptions of the products offered to be able to know what areas customers attach value on and the areas adjustments need to be done.

Products share of mind

This is the development product awareness and popularity in the minds of the customers through advertisement and promotion to the extent that consumers only think of certain specific brand names within type or category. Marketers always try to utilize the popularity of their product, to penetrate even further and to maximize the profits (Ries, 2010). One of the firms to have achieved pervasive mind share is Google with the term ‘googling’ that describes the act of online searching. This has made Google be the world’s most popular search engine and has remained the world’s most popular search engine.

Coca-cola, on the other hand, is considered one of the leading soft drinks manufacturing company in the world to an extent that may people even refer cola flavored soft drink as a ‘coke’ irrespective of whether it is a product of coca cola or not (Haueisen, 1981). The goal of mindshare is to improve sales, reputation, and market share and product information. These current positioning concepts aim at ensuring the products and services offered to the customers solve the problems of problems, provide the benefits to the customers and assist get favorable perceptions by the investors whether local or international shareholders.

Investment Positioning

Many companies are currently spreading their branches to other countries in a bid to increases their distribution points to be able to reach all the potential customers based in these untapped areas. At the same time, major manufacturing plants are also constructed in new sights to bring the products closer to the people to reduce the delivery costs.

One major way of positioning the products in local markets is for the investors to allow the local Government and local public members to own up some percentage of the company. This is made possible by selling shares to the locals thus making then own and feel part of that product and company. This will definitely enhance customer retention and loyalty which is a key driving force for further investment and company profit. This is a positioning strategy that has been employed by many international like Diageo which is a multinational alcoholic beverage manufacturer that has expanded through the acquisition of companies whose shares are listed on the respective stock exchanges in the markets where they operate.

Market segmentation

This is another market positioning strategy where a sub-set of a market that made up of customers or organizations that share characteristics that make them demand same product and based on qualities of those products and price function. A good market segment must be distinct from other segments having different needs, is homogeneous within the segment that exhibits common needs, is responding in the same way to a market stimulus and it can be accessed by a market intervention (Haueisen, 1981). Market segmentation can be done based on gender, price, age, and interests and product differentiation can be done to match and satisfy the demand of each segment.

At the same time, segmentation can be done based on consumer based market to help provide a specific match of products and individual consumers and Industrial market segmentation which targets manufacturing industries. There should be a difference in quality, functional features sales promotion strategies and activities, the difference in availability in terms of location and timing of the deliveries (Haueisen, 1981). Improved segmentation can significantly lead to increased marketing effectiveness. Once a segment has been identified, the segment is then subject to positioning to influence how the product is viewed in the minds of consumers.

Companies also need to determine the locations of the product in the product space to be able to know which region is saturated to avoid and which region is untapped. This market research result helps in the decision making towards regional and technological expansion to position the products in the right places.

Product Management

This is an organization’s lifecycle function that is concerned with planning, and marketing of a product at all stages of the product production. Product management, positioning and marketing matching in the objective to improve sales revenues, the company’s market share and the profit margin..it drives new product development to suit the new changing needs of the customers by giving the touch of uniqueness from the older products or the products from the competitors. The quality of a product that customers put a lot of value on is the duty of product management team whose quality works directly impacts on the market positioning.

This is part of the market positioning that ensures products are well and consistently produced, delivered to the right markets. Good product management leads to customer satisfaction and retention and builds customer loyalty to the brand to a level that customers identify themselves with a particular brand (Haueisen, 1981). For a company to position itself well, brand name and trademark. Companies need to promote and maintain the value and class of their product since many customers would want to be associated with a high-class product that commands respect within all social set up.

Product Differentiation

This is the distinguishing of a product by loading it with more components to make it more attractive and appealing to a particular target market and different from the products supplied by the competitors. Differentiation is done by describing the difference between products of services in order to display the uniqueness of the product either through advertisement or skilled packaging (Haueisen, 1981). The purpose of differentiation is to build a position for prospective customers sees as unique. And this strategy helps move the competition of the product from being based on price too on non-price parameters like distribution strategy, or promotional variables.

Positioning according to Trout and Reis

Trout and Reis noted that ‘to be successful you must touch the base reality and the only reality that counts is what’s already in the mind of the prospect’ (Ries, & Trout, 1986.pg 5). The necessary approach is to manipulate the ideas in the mind to drop the facts that already exist so that it can give room for a new idea altogether. This is notable because the marketplace is no longer responds to the marketing strategies that worked in the past since there are too many products in the market too many companies making a lot of noise in their bid to market and reach out to their customers. There is over communication of in the advertisement with over 100 channels to choose from. Trout and Reis, therefore, recommend a number of mechanisms to be able to position well amid this over communication.

Over simplified Messages

In the advertisement of the products, the book positioning recommends the use of sharp but simplifies messages to communicate the existence of a product through the media that includes television, radio, and newspapers. This because many people always make up their minds and because of the over communication, the mind only accepts information that matches the existing knowledge and experience (Ries, 2010). If a company does not take advantage and position earlier then the competitor will use it to their advantage.

According to Reis, marketing strategies should not only revolve around the 4Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion but should include more important steps that should come before the 4Ps.one of the steps to be introduced should be the Research step they would help reveal how customers differ in their needs taste and preferences and perceptions. This is the information that would help do market segmentation before the product is rolled out (Ries, & Trout, 1986).

Another step to be considered is targeting the right market segment that the company can serve at a superior level. This is because no company can fulfill the needs of every segment. Positioning is the next step before the 4Ps which is a revolutionary step that cuts across the 4Ps.

Positioning against the Product

Positioning affects the product both positives or negatively. When a product is positioned well the product receives a good reception from the customer. For example, Volvo Company made the decision to build safety features in their vehicles and because of this safety positioning, many people embraced the Volvo brand which became very successful.

Positioning against Price

Positioning also influences the price of products offered in the market. When the quality and superiority of a product is over communicated, the price of that commodity is likely to go up since many people will attach the value on the quality than the price. For example, Haagen-Daz introduced a more expensive line of ice cream called Premium ice cream (Haueisen, 1981).The positioning of this product made Haagen Daz experience marketing success and product acceptance by the customers for several decades.

Positioning against Place

The packaging of different products either in different sizes or styles usually dictates the place where the product is sold. Some product packaging suits selling points like supermarkets, which are retail consumer distribution outlets while bulky packaging suits whole sales selling points. The company must ensure their products are strategically placed in outlets that are accessible to all customers within their target markets to make sure that there are no disappointments to the loyal customers any time they need the products.

Positioning against Promotion

Promotion is directly affected by the positioning of the product by short but effective messages. This is evidenced by Caesar’s strategy to promote pizza brand by using the message ‘two for the price of one’ and the ‘pizza, pizza’ refrain that made it one of the most memorable advertisements in the Caesars brand (Haueisen, 1981). This lead to the growth of the pizza chain but when the positioning was dropped, the sales declined. This, therefore, proves the role of positioning in product sales. Trout and Reis assert that positioning is an orderly system for finding a window in the mind and that it is based on the theory that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances (Ries, & Trout, 1986).

Conclusion

Market Positioning plays a very integral part in the advertisement sector for companies and organizations that need to put forward their products in the market. Market positioning should be designed and executed with full knowledge of the competitors’ products, market presence, and their market segment. Current positioning trends focus mainly on the utilization of the technology that has since evolved. Currently, companies use sophisticated marketing media like the internet, YouTube, World Wide Web, use of films, Bluetooth and games which reach the customers instantly in large numbers all over the world, unlike the old advertising media that included television, radio, and newspapers. There is also global positioning where companies move to tap the originally untapped markets by investing in the regionalization of the production centers. The 4Ps still remain to be integral parameters of marketing with the strategy of market segmentation to deliver products that match the customer’s needs and expectations.

Trout and Reis noted that to create an impact in the product marketing, companies should use short but simplified messages that can manipulate the mind (Ries, & Trout, 1986). This is because there is over communication and advertisement of products in the market to an extent that many people only sieve the information they need but ignore the rest. What remains important is the changing of customers perception and view in the mind about the product to a level of limiting their choices in the mind. This can only be successful when the 4Ps which include Price, Product, Place, and promotion are well organized to meet the needs and expectations of the customers. Trout and Reis added that apart from the 4Ps, Research on the market and product, Targeting the right market and Positioning should precede the 4Ps to place the company and its products way above the competitors (Ries, 2010).