Positioning is all about how a brand or company is positioned, or perceived, in the minds of a target group of customers.

Perceptual maps help us to plan positionings and repositionings.

A perceptual map is a diagram which plots different positionings and repositionings.

For example Guinness was positioned as an ‘old unfashionable mature drinker’s drink’ in the 1970s. Demographic shifts resulting from the 60s baby boom meant that in the early 80s Guinness were wrongly positioned for the booming younger beer market. With the help of a new advertising campaign, they repositioned themselves from old and unfashionable to young and fashionable. Sales grew immediately.

Lucozade was repositioned from a sick child’s drink to a healthy adult’s drink in the faster growing healthy adult’s soft drink sector. The company saw a bigger target market in the faster growing healthy adult’s soft-drink market and they repositioned the brand accordingly. Could you plot the old positioning?

They changed the advertising, the packaging and expanded the distribution channels beyond chemist shops. In short, they changed the marketing mix and targeted a new sector – the soft drinks market. This radical repositioning helped sales to grow. Could you plot the new positioning?

So brands can be repositioned if accompanied by changes in target markets which usually means changing the marketing mix in some way. The marketing mix is dealt with in more detail separately in this title.

For now it is worth remembering that everything a company does can affect the positioning of its products in the minds of its customers.

The product or service itself, the way it is presented and promoted, and delivered, even the prices that are charged – these are all part of the marketing mix which, in turn, affects the way a product or service is perceived, or positioned, in the minds of people.

Today, the company behind the brand also affects the brand’s positioning.

The selection of target markets also affects the positioning.

For instance, a soft drink targeted at teenagers and a soft drink targeted at Senior Citizens would – by association with its users – generate very different positionings.

Effective positioning therefore requires an in-depth understanding of the market, its needs, its segments and the target markets selected.

When developing a positioning strategy consider: can the organisation provide something that is firstly, required by the market, secondly, distinctive and thirdly, sustainable?

Can the organisation provide the resources to support and sustain the desired positioning? The ‘How to Position’ subtopic goes into this in more detail.

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