“Brand positioning is an attempt to create and maintain a unique representation of the brand in customer’s mind, a representation that is expected to stimulate choice of that brand” (Rossiter, 2005, p.42). Positioning, in fact, refers to how customers think about different brands in a market. Through brand positioning a company attempts to build a sustainable competitive advantage on product attributes in the consumer’s mind. Nevertheless, developing a successful positioning strategy is not easy. Positioning products in a complex market can be one of a company’s most difficult decisions (Gwin, 2003, p.
30). Brand positioning is the first stage of marcoms planning. “Before the manager can make a reasonable decision about where the brand should be headed via its marcoms, the manager first has to decide – to change, if necessary, or to shore up and reconfirm – the brand’s positioning” (Rossiter, 2005, p.32).
The three-level procedure for positioning, presented by Rossiter and Bellman (2005, p.42), contains T-C-B positioning model, I-D-U benefit analysis and a-b-e benefit claim model.
The T-C-B positioning model requires managerial decisions on three factors – Target Customer (T) for the brand, Category Need (C) into which the brand should be positioned and Key Benefit (B) which will be offered by the brand. In order to correctly determine the category need, benefits sought and the purchase decision process, managers have to rely on a customer research. The most useful types of research are individual depth interviews and Marcoms Situation Audit (Rossiter, 2005, p.44). The Target Customer decision answers the question “Who is the brand for?”, and it has to be defined for different types of customer, known as stakeholders.
However, the most important is the decision on End-Customer target for brand positioning, and it should be defined as broadly as possible, including all current and potential users of the brand. Category Need (C) is another positioning decision, and it aims to answer the question “What is the brand?”. It is essential that the Category Need is identified and described in customer language and from customer’s point of view. The Key Benefit (B) decision is the third factor in the brand’s positioning, and it includes several sub-decisions. Firstly, managers have to decide between central, differentiated and central me-too benefit positioning within the category. Secondly, the decision on the emphasised benefit type has to be made. The benefit to be emphasized, or the Key Benefit, can be instinctual, archetypal, emotional or rational. Finally, managers must decide on entry-ticket benefits that have to be mentioned, and any inferior benefits, which should be traded off or omitted in the marketing communications.
Key Benefit (B) selection for the T-C-B brand positioning decision is accomplished by conducting an I-D-U Benefit Analysis of competing brands in the category. The manager has to select the Key Benefit that is important or motivating to target customers (I), deliverable by the brand (D) and unique to the brand (U) (Rossiter, 2005, p.62). To decide which benefits are important, deliverable and unique, managers have to evaluate the potential of multiple benefits, using multiattribute model. Importance or desirability of benefits could be determined by identifying the important customer benefits in a product category, and asking users to rate the desirability of each benefit.
To find out the Delivery, the same customers who provided the importance ratings could be asked to rate how well each competing brand delivers on each of the important benefits. Uniqueness, or differentially superior delivery, could be determined by calculating Brand Preference score from I-D-U ratings – by multiplying delivery rating of the brand by the importance weight for each benefit and then summing them (Rossiter, 2005, p.64). After completing the I-D-U analysis, managers have to choose one of five strategic options for increasing the brand’s market share via Key Benefit positioning.
These options are: to increase the brand’s perceived delivery on an important benefit; to increase the perceived importance of a benefit; to decrease a competitor’s perceived delivery; to add a new benefit; and to change the choice rule. The a-b-e benefit claim model is the third, final stage of positioning. This model looks at the structure of benefit claims, and distinguishes between attributes (a), which are ‘what the brand has” (objectively), benefits (b), which are “what the customer wants” (subjectively), and emotions (e), which refer to “what the customer feel”. Decisions made in T-C-B positioning model, I-D-U benefit analysis and a-b-e benefit claim model are incorporated in the positioning statement for the brand.
In our consultancy report we used T-C-B positioning model to perform the positioning analysis for Mortein insect spray. Keeping in mind that the definition of Target Customer should be broad and include all current and potential users of the brand, the End-Customer target for Mortein insect spray was defined as “Consumers of household insecticide products”. Category Need into which Mortein insect spray is to be positioned was defined, from the customer’s point of view, as “Insect killers”.
The benefit to be emphasised, or the Key Benefit, was identified as “Fast killing of insects”. We decided to adopt central positioning within the category because Mortein is the leading brand in the Australian household insecticide market. Rational approach, or Rational Selling Proposition, which is focused on a functional performance benefit, was used to identify the Key Benefit. Since the choice between brands of insect spray is Informationally motivated, the rational approach is the best alternative for identifying the Key Benefit.
In order to identify the importance or desirability of benefits, we provided a small sample of users of insect spray with a list of benefits, and asked them to rate each of these benefits on a 9-point scale from extremely desirable to extremely undesirable. From their responses we found out that the most important benefits were fast killing, low price and safety. To determine the delivery by each brand we asked the same group of users to rate, on a five point rating scale, how well different brands perform on each of the important benefits. Mortein insect spray scored 4.5 on fast killing, 1.5 on price and 5.0 on safety.
Uniqueness was estimated by calculating the Brand Preference score for Mortein insect spray, which was 32.5, or72% of the Ideal brand score. Based on that analysis, first I-D-U strategy option – to increase our brand’s perceived delivery on an important benefit – has been selected. We would like to increase the delivery rating on the most important benefit – fast killing, and, also, to slightly increase delivery rating on price. Regarding the a-b-e benefit claim model, since Mortein insect spray is an Informationally motivated product, we decided to use e-→b (negative emotion → benefit), or Problem-solution benefit chain. People feel annoyed because of the presence of insects in their homes (they have a strong negative emotion), so Mortein will offer them a benefit of fast killing of insects.
There are also other models for brand positioning that managers can employ. Perceptual mapping techniques are frequently used to aid managers in making brand positioning decisions (Kohli, 1993, p.10). Perceptual maps could be used to determine where the brand is positioned with the respect to the competitive brands, and to help identify product or service attributes which are important to customers, and which can be used to differentiate one company’s offering from the others in the category. The perceptual mapping delivers a graphic map of the various attributes, locating in space the different brands already in the marketplace with relation to each other and with relation to various attributes uncovered by quantitative surveying of customers and potential customers (Cahill, 1997, p.101). Amongst various techniques of perceptual mapping, the most frequently used are Factor Analysis, Discriminant analysis and Multidimensional Scaling.
Factor Analysis is essentially a data reduction technique in which the objective is to represent the original pool of attributes in terms of a smaller number of dimensions or factors (Kohli, 1993, p.10). After the factors have been identified, the brand’s ratings on these factors are used to position the brands in perceptual space. Factor Analysis works best for promotional and communications strategies because it yields more affective dimensions (Gwin, 2003, p.33). Discriminant analysis is also used to reduce the number of attributes to a smaller number of underlying dimensions. However, unlike Factor Analysis, it focuses on attributes which show differences between brands (Kohli, 1993, p.11). Since it yields more objective dimensions, Discriminant analysis is most often used for new product design.
Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) enables managers to map brands spatially, so that the relative positions in the mapped space reflect the degree of perceived similarity between the brands. Respondents are asked to evaluate brands in pairs, judging the overall similarity of the brands, not individual attributes (Kohli, 1993, p.12). The best use of Multidimensional Scaling is in established markets, with numerous brands available to respondents. On the other hand, Gwin and Gwin (2003) favour another tool, the Product Attributes model, over perceptual mapping techniques. Product Attributes model assumes that consumer choice is based on the characteristics (or attributes) of a brand. The consumer’s choice is based on maximizing the level of satisfaction received from the product attributes subject to a budget constraint (Gwin, 2003, p.32). The main strength of this model is the ability to incorporate the impact of price into assessment of brand positioning.
Perceptual mapping is useful because it makes easier for people to see and understand relationship when they are presented graphically, rather than when they are offered in columns of figures or in long verbal descriptions (Cahill, 1997, p.101). If we used perceptual mapping in our consultancy report it would, enable us to locate different brands in space, and, actually, see what Mortein stands for in relation to the competitors. Nevertheless, this technique has several drawbacks.
Firstly, it compares only two, usually most important attributes, while other attributes ate neglected. Secondly, there is no way of representing benefit importance in perceptual maps because the attributes are invariably plotted as though they were of equal importance (Rossiter, 2005, p.70). In our particular case, for Mortein insect spray, if we employed perceptual mapping, we would probably obtain similar results to those from I-D-U benefit analysis. However, by using perceptual mapping techniques, we would have to spend considerably more time and effort on research and statistical analysis. Therefore, we believe that the I-D-U model favoured by Rossiter and Bellman (2005) is superior to perceptual mapping and other models of brand positioning.
Cahill, D., (1997), How Consumers Pick a Hotel: Strategic Segmentation and Target Marketing, The Haworth Press, Inc., New York
Greenberg, M., and McDonald, S. S., (1989), ‘Successful Needs/Benefits Segmentation: A user’s Guide’, The Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 6, Iss. 3, pp. 29-36
Gwin, C. and Gwin, C., (2003), ‘Product attributes model: A tool for evaluating brand positioning’, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Vol. 11, Iss. 2, pp. 30-42
Haley, R., (1995), ‘Benefit segmentation: A decision-oriented research tool’, Marketing Management, Vol. 4, Iss. 1, pp. 59-63
Kohli, C. and Leuthesser, L., (1993), ‘Product positioning: A comparison of perceptual mapping techniques’, The Journal of Product and Brand Management, Vol. 2, Iss. 4, pp. 10-20
Kotler, P. et al., (2004), Marketing, 6th edition, Pearson Education Australia
Rossiter, J. R. and Bellman, S., (2005), Marketing communications; theory and applications, Pearson Education Australia
Wedel, M. and Steenkamp, J. E. M., (1991), ‘A Clusterwise Regression Method for Simultaneous Fuzzy Market Structuring and Benefit Segmentation’, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 28, Iss. 4, pp. 385-392