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Positioning is a commonly used marketing technique used to create a particular product perception and influence the way potential consumers regard products. In their book, Ries and Trout claim that the main distinction of positioning from many other methods of advertising is in its approach – positioning does not strive to create new concepts and introduce new information, but it rather addresses the resources that are already available and attempts to transform them.
Positioning this does not relate to the products directly but primarily uses the elements which serve as the main product-indicating signs applied to increase brand awareness in the minds of potential consumers: name, price, packaging, design, etc. These elements help marketing practitioners to let customers know about the benefits of a product, and, therefore, they may be regarded as the main subjects of manipulation in positioning strategy.
Ries and Trout also emphasize that the success of positioning largely depends on the extent of its marketing focus. It means that when a product’s positioning is oriented to a specialized niche, greater opportunities for excellent performance at this niche occur.
Ries and Trout claim that the main idea which laid the foundation of positioning is the selection and filtering of information. In the increasingly growing flow of information which people face through multiple communication media (the Internet, television, newspapers, magazines, etc.), they tend to pay attention only to the things which they consider worthy. Therefore, to increase product awareness, it is important to put it in a high-value category that would be of significant interest to a particular group of the population.
It is possible to say that such an approach based on the consideration of psychological aspects of information consumption may become very effective in case a marketing practitioner can adequately identify the interests, values, and preferences of the targeted customer group. To create the appropriate qualitative product values, the organization should be sensitive towards the changes in the cultural environment within the market and consider even the smallest shifts in customer preferences, tendencies, and competitors’ product representations.
Ries and Trout state that the consideration of competitors’ presence in the market provides a ground for the development of advertising campaigns, the clarification of product position, and the establishment of the product value in the consumers’ minds. In case an organization acts as if its competitors do not exist, the chance for the failure of a promotion strategy drastically increases. Thus, the positioning of new brands by a selective comparison to the existing products may help to create a competitive advantage and ensure the new brand’s sustainable growth. The mentioned positioning principle suggests an efficient way to increase product value and, at the same time, mitigate the potential risks.
It is possible to presume that through the usage of comparisons and opposition to competitors, organizations facilitate the development of the desired mental perceptions in the recipients of communication messages because the majority of people tend to take a completely new information, unrelated to the existing facts of reality, with suspicion. The comparisons help to create bonding with the familiar concepts and simultaneously emphasize a new product’s strengths and benefits. Therefore, along with the development of the understanding of consumers’ needs, companies should evaluate the environment in the market and, by identifying the potential weaknesses of their competitors, offer the customers new values and establish new positions in their minds.
The authors suggest that the creation of the product name is the major premise for positioning success. The product name may substantially predetermine the success or failure of the product’s integration into the market and development of competitive advantage. This statement seems to be true because names are usually the first aspects of products’ identities that the potential consumers encounter. A name that is completely unrelated to the characteristics of the market and does not have a direct link to the product may create challenges in the communication of this product’s advantages and features.
However, it is possible to say that product name should have a meaning for customers and create appropriate associations. In this way, names do not necessarily should have a link to products’ functional capacity, purposes of use, or area of their implementation but should create the mental images which, in combination with other products’ positioning elements, will increase the appeal and attractiveness of products to the members of a targeted group.
The positioning principles described in the book – the consideration of human psychology and customer needs, the creation of relevant product name and product values through comparisons with competitors – may help organizations to increase customer attractiveness and brand awareness. To apply the knowledge introduced by Ries and Trout, marketing managers should learn to evaluate the external environment in the market and the cultural background of the targeted population groups.
The preliminary analysis of environments is the initial stage of positioning strategy that leads to the further fulfillment of positioning practices including pricing, and development of communication messages and names. Entry of new products to the market may be challenging, and it is associated with significant risks of financial loss. But positioning may assist organizations in designing product promotion campaigns which can help to convey the information about product values in an efficient way and create a positive brand perception that will foster the increase in product demand and brand’s sustainable presence in the market.
Ries, Al, and Jack Trout. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986. Print.