3Ps of Positioning: Helping Firms Reach the Heights of Sustainability

LightCastle Analytics Wing
July 26, 2016
3Ps of Positioning: Helping Firms Reach the Heights of Sustainability

As a market is inundated by competition, the stakes get understandably bigger. No matter how big a business is, news of new competition is indeed a thorn in the skin. The outcomes are obvious: collusion, price war, bold advertising moves (where every firm thinks they are the best in the world and they pull out all stops to ensure everyone gets to know that). The possible moves will go on and on. But there are other witty (and novel) ways to internalize the market pressure and ensure you come out on top despite swimming against the rough tides. If you are thinking about 3 P’s of positioning, you are on track.

3Ps of Positioning: A Primer

So there are basically three Ps. Each with a different essence and a twist. But they have a very interesting intersection- customer perception. By playing with the customer minds, each P can help a business bypass the whirlwinds of competition and at the same time help business garner a formidable niche.

  1. Reverse Positioning: Reverse positioning ensures that a product sticks to its category membership but forges a unique position it and in the process a firm ensures its products let go of some of the Points of Parity held by many of the competitors and add a few novel characteristics. The idea is to diffuse fresh air in the minds of the consumers so that they see the product as an exciting new prospect and thus drive sales. That said, such a move is usually extremely effective when a firm’s brand is hit by sagging sales at the maturity level. Notable users of such a strategy would include IKEA and Commerce bank. Research has shown that reverse positioning works well with services.
  2. Breakaway Positioning: The premise behind breakaway positioning is that a firm would project its product in such a way so as to ensure consumers see the product in a different category. Like reverse positioning, breakaway positioning should be used during a product’s maturity stage. Breakaway positioning aims to cash in on the status quo by challenging it. For instance, Swatch watches positioned itself as a product more bent towards the lines of fashion accessories at a time when Swiss watches were prized and looked upon as extremely valuable and novel entities. Swatch, by going against the flow, created a growth niche for itself. For breakaway positioning to be effective, the essential P’s of marketing must be on the same page. The price, promotion, place and the product must complement the brand’s efforts to sway the product’s category perception. Research has shown that breakaway positioning works well with packaged goods.
  3. Stealth Positioning– Like the other two P’s stealth positioning bets on the change in consumer perception. The idea is to use a product’s limitations and position itself as something that adds value or that pulls our emotional strings. Speaking of emotional strings, Sony did particularly well to position its AIBO robots as loving household pets, despite their shortcomings. By putting a veil on a product’s true nature, firms can forge a new perception to cash on. In other words, by putting the product in a different category, firms can cajole consumers to make the purchase. Unlike the aforementioned Ps, stealth positioning should be utilized in the introduction stage. Research has shown that stealth positioning works well with technological products.

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Application in the Local Context

  1. Reverse Positioning – Reverse Positioning can be applied in the banking sector which is highly saturated. A bank for instance can eschew convenience for retail clients to a certain extent and focus more on the corporate sector by offering more value added services, faster processing and a special zone in its branches for priority servicing of corporate clients. This will help it establish itself as an entity that is by the corporates, for the corporates and with the corporates.
  2. Breakaway positioning – Breakaway positioning can be applied to the biscuits industry. There are a plethora of chips brands that we find in the market today, all vying for market share and all more or less focused on the same target group. A compelling idea is to transform the way we see chips. We normally see chips as something to be consumed mostly during the afternoon. But what if we can make healthy chips that can be assimilated with all the three meals, then it would be perceived as something quite close to staple.
  3. Stealth Positioning – Although, technological products are yet to gain traction here in Bangladesh, stealth positioning can be adopted by a variety of brands. For instance, Bangladeshi applications can increase their relevance via adopting a patriotic stance. Aamra phones can brand its aPhone by dissociating itself from other established competitors by emphasizing it as a phone that despite being less muscular than the established brands, it is a phone”by the people” “for the people” and “with the people”. This can be done via an emotional marketing campaign in social media. Basically, the idea is to establish itself as a local underdog. In this way, it will be able to draw emotion from the local customers.

At the end of the day, positioning depends on the stage of the product, competitive dynamics and overall macroeconomic and socio-technological environment. Choosing the right one may be the difference between growth and bankruptcy.

WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

At LightCastle, we take a data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We consult and collaborate with development partners, the public sector, and private organizations to promote inclusive economic growth that positively changes the lives of people at scale. Being a data-driven and transparent organization, we believe in democratizing knowledge and information among the stakeholders of the economy to drive inclusive growth.

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