Positioning Strategy
All marketing strategy is built on STP : Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. A company discovers different needs and groups in the marketplace, targets those needs and groups that it can satisfy in a superior way, and then positions its offering so that the target market recognizes the company's distinctive offering and image. If a company does a poor job of positioning, the market will be confused as to what to expect. If a company does an excellent job of positioning, then it can work out the rest of its marketing planning and differentiation from its positioning strategy.

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Positioning is the act of designing the company's offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market. The end result of positioning is the successful creation of a customer-focused value proposition, a cogent reason why the target market should buy the product. Hertz is thought of as the world's largest auto-rental agency, Coca-Cola as the world's largest soft-drink company, and Porsche as one of the world's best sports cars. These brands own these positions, and it would be hard for a competitor to claim them.

As companies increase the number of claimed benefits for their brand, they risk dis¬belief and a loss of clear positioning. In general, a company must avoid four major errors:

1. Underpositioning: Some companies discover that buyers have only a vague idea of the brand. The brand is seen as just another entry in a crowded marketplace. When Pepsi introduced its clear Crystal Pepsi in 1993, customers were distinctly unimpressed. They didn't see "clarity" as an important benefit in a soft drink.

2. Overpositioning: Buyers may have too narrow an image of the brand. Thus a consumer might think that diamond rings at Tiffany start at $5,000 when in fact Tiffany now offers affordable diamond rings starting at $1,000.

3. Confused positioning: Buyers might have a confused image of the brand resulting from the company's making too many claims or changing the brand's positioning too frequently. This was the case with Stephen Jobs's sleek and powerful NeXT desktop computer, which was positioned first for students, then for engineers, and then for businesspeople, all unsuccessfully.

4. Doubtful positioning: Buyers may find it hard to believe the brand claims in view of the product's features, price, or manufacturer. When GM's Cadillac division introduced the Cimarron, it positioned the car as a luxury competitor with BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Although the car featured leather seats, a luggage rack, lots of chrome, and a Cadillac logo stamped on the chassis, customers saw it as a dolled-up version of Chevy's Cavalier and Oldsmobile's Firenza. The car was positioned as "more for more": customers saw it as "less for more."

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Source of Reference:
Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, Marketing Management, Prentice Hall. You can obtain this excellent book here

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