A successful brand positioning strategy is one designed for long-term growth. It should act as a means of psychologically priming a consumer for purchase by becoming synonymous with a positive message. When a consumer sees a brand’s product, they are going to have an immediate reaction to that product, whether it’s positive or negative. Brand positioning allows brands to control that message and get consumers to perceive their products in a way that encourages sales.
The brand positioning strategy sets the map that all future campaigns should follow. It allows brands to align their own values with that of their audience, which builds consumer trust and loyalty. It’s also a good way for CPG brands to differentiate their products from similar ones. With a strong brand positioning strategy, brands are better able to engage consumers and grow steady, sustainable market share.
Going to Market With the Right Brand Positioning Strategy
A brand positioning strategy is based on how a brand approaches the market, as well as how that brand deals with their competitors. Due to this, it will have a direct impact on all shopper marketing plans. There are four general categories that brands fall into when going to market.
- Direct competition: In a direct competition approach, a brand enters a market with a goal of pulling market share away from their biggest competitors. This is a strategy CPG challenger brands often follow when taking on large market leaders. In this case, the brand will directly compete with these more prominent brands, comparing their products to others. We can see a bit of this through the Pepsi-Coke rivalry, when the brands hold blind taste tests to compare their beverages to those of their competitors. The brands would then share these results to try to establish the message that their brand is superior.
- Targeting niche markets: There are often smaller segments within major markets that brands can focus on to gain attention. Brands can grow through these niche markets as they often go mainstream. This strategy often plays out in the cosmetics industry, where brands target specific groups of individuals to which to cater. CoverGirl provides an excellent example of this, having recently established male and gender fluid models for its products. By incorporating these individuals, CoverGirl established itself as a product not just for women, but for anyone who uses makeup.
- Disrupting the market: Disrupting a market requires taking an old product and tweaking it in a way that allows it to be used for a new purpose. Essentially, the brand eliminates their competition by presenting their product as unique, and as something only their brand can provide. An example of this comes from Milk-Bone and their dental chews. The dog treat market has a lot of competition. However, the oral health pet care market has significantly less. By creating something that fits into both categories, the brand was able to connect with the large dog treat market audience while offering them a product with minimal competition.
- Catering to an underserved market: In some cases, a brand can come to market without competition as they’re offering a new product or service that no one else has. General Mills managed this by creating a new line of gluten-free snacks to fill the rapidly growing niche market of gluten-free consumers. The brand specifically focused on convenience foods for consumers who typically eat meals on the go. The strategy here isn’t adjusting the marketing for the audience. Instead, it’s about changing the product to reach new audiences. As such, this approach to brand positioning is often costly at the research and development stage.
These brand positioning strategies are designed to build awareness for a product based on how that product comes to market. A brand that is focusing on direct competition would want to compare products to their competitor. Meanwhile, a brand taking a niche market approach would want to reach out to the specific communities in that niche and align their message with that group.
Understanding the Buyer Journey in Brand Positioning
Timing is an essential part of brand marketing best practices because brands need to reach their target audiences at critical junctures in their purchase journey. Digital marketing options can aid consumers in the discovery of products during this process.
Specifically, brands may want to use mobile apps as a means of both identifying their target markets and reaching out to them as they shop. Shopping apps like Shopkick, for example, can be used to market to consumers right in the shopping aisle—which is ideal for a brand positioning strategy based on competition or underserved markets. Shopkick guides consumers to products in the store and incentivizes engagement, allowing brands to connect with consumers and drive consideration in those critical moments before purchase.
A brand positioning strategy sets the path that marketers must follow as they attempt to gain market share.
For a niche market or disruption approach, social media platforms can also be imperative. Often, these niche communities congregate around specific sites or personalities. By establishing a presence there, brands can spur interest in their products and kick off the path to purchase.
A brand positioning strategy sets the path that marketers must follow as they attempt to gain market share. The way a brand approaches the market will make a significant difference in how they establish their marketing messages. It will also impact the consumer’s path to purchase. By creating a brand positioning strategy that targets the right audience for a product, brands will be better prepared to grow market share and gain customer loyalty.
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