Positioning marketing is the process by which marketers endeavour to generate an image or character in the minds of their target markets for its brands, products, or organisations.
Re-positioning changes the identity of a product, in relation to the identity of rival products, in the collective minds of their target markets.
De-positioning attempts to modify the identity of competing products, comparative to the identity of your own products, in the communal minds of the target markets.
The initial work on Positioning has a consumer market focus, and was not so much geared to the questions relative to competitive products as much as it was directed towards cutting through the background “noise” and institutes a moment of real contact with the proposed beneficiary.
In the classic example of Avis claiming “No.2, We Try Harder”, the point was to say something so shocking (it was by the standards of the day) that it cleared space in your brain and made you forget all about who was #1, and not to make some philosophical point about being “hungry” for business.
The expansion of high-tech marketing may have had much to do with the move in meaning towards competitive positioning.
Although there are different descriptions of Positioning, in all probability the most common is: recognising a market niche for a brand, product or service utilising the traditional marketing placement strategies of price, promotion, distribution, packaging, and competition.
Positioning marketing is a concept which was first popularised by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their blockbuster book “Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind.”
This is slightly different to the context in which the term was originally published in 1969 by Jack Trout in the paper “Positioning” is a game people play in today’s me-too market place” in the publication Industrial Marketing, where the case was made that the typical consumer is inundated with unwanted advertisements, and has a natural propensity to discard all of the information that does not instantaneously find a comfortable (and empty) slot in the mind of the consumer. It was then expanded into their ground-breaking book, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” where they define Positioning as “an organised system for finding a window in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances” (p. 19 of 2001 paperback edition).
Most people will agree that Positioning is something (a perception) that happens in the minds of their target market(s). It is the collective perception that the customer has of a particular service, product or company in relation to their perceptions of the competitors in the same market. This phenomenon will happen whether or not the management of a company is active, proactive, reactive or passive about the on-going process of developing a position. However, a company can positively influence the perceptions through open-minded strategic actions.