By: Jack Trout Al Ries
Originally written in 1981, “Positioning” provides timeless advice to navigate crowded marketplaces. In an era saturated with information, the goal is to position a product in the customer’s mind effectively, emphasizing simplicity in messaging.
Positioning as a Market Leader:
Being the first in a category offers a significant advantage, as evident in the market share ratio. The book highlights the importance of maintaining leadership without boasting, reinforcing the idea of being the pioneer, and adapting to technological changes to avoid obsolescence.
Positioning as a Market Follower:
If not the first, strategies include claiming a unique sub-position, leveraging competition, or positioning as the underdog to appeal to specific market subsets. Success lies in not trying to appeal to everyone but focusing on an underserved niche.
Repositioning the Competition:
Strategies involve changing the marketplace’s perception of competitors, such as highlighting negative aspects. This isn’t comparative advertising but aims to alter perceptions to benefit your product.
Importance of Names:
Descriptive names trump made-up ones, and poor choices, like confusing names or those limiting the product’s perceived usefulness, can hinder success. Building a great brand starts with a well-thought-out name.
Avoiding Free Riding:
Introducing products under different names prevents a single brand from holding multiple positions. Procter & Gamble’s approach, using distinct names, is advocated, emphasizing the benefit of a clean slate for each new product.
Line Extension Trap:
Line extensions can fail if consumers associate a brand too closely with a specific product. Google’s evolution into a generic term for search engines serves as a cautionary example. Dilution of the original brand can occur, making line extensions risky.
Line Extensions Can Work – Sometimes:
Line extensions might be acceptable in certain situations, such as low-volume products, crowded markets, limited ad budgets, commodity products, or when sales reps play a crucial role. Exceptions exist, but caution is urged.
Amidst increasing competition and diminishing entry barriers, the book stresses the fundamental importance of positioning products correctly in consumers’ minds. As markets evolve, timeless principles of effective positioning remain critical for success.