Product Positioning and Product Repositioning

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This refers to a place a product offering occupies in consumers' minds on important attributes, relative to competing offerings.
How new and current items in the product mix are perceived, in the minds of the consumer, therefore reemphasizing the importance of perception!!
New Product--need to communicate benefits
Established Products--need to reinforce benefits

Ideal Characteristics

Need to introduce products that possess characteristics that the target market most desires, ideal. Product positioning is crucial.
Consumers desires refer to the attributes consumers would like the products to possess--IDEAL POINTS.
Whenever a group of consumers has a distinctive "ideal" for a product category, they represent a potential target market segment.
A firm does well if its attributes (of the product) are perceived by consumers as being close to their ideal. The objective is to be "more ideal" than the competitors.

Each product must provide some unique combination of new features desired by the target market.
Instead of allowing the customer to position products independently, marketers try to influence and shape consumers concepts and perceptions.
Marketers can use perception maps.

Existing Products

Sun Tan Lotion Example:
     Old Position             |         New Position
Traditional sun tan lotion positioned as aiding in getting a very glamorous deep tan etc.
Dermatologist cancer etc.
Lifestyle needs change, move to more health conscious society
Need to reposition sun tan lotion as a healthy way to be exposed to the sun.
Target market has shifted from the left quartile to the right quartile as far as needs are concerned.
Sun tan marketers need to do same as far as changing consumers perception for the product.
  • Change Promotion: "Tan don't Burn" The St. Tropez Tan vs. Ultra Sweat Proof Serious tan for...Be Sun Smart
  • Change Product: Sunscreen and sunless tanning agent.

BMW positions on affordability

                         Very Safe
                              |         Lexus/infiniti
                              |                   Mercedes
                              |                      BMW
                         Very Unsafe
BMW, to reposition up to the left
Due to the exchange rate, Lexus moves to the right
Why did they reposition?
Competitors include Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes Benz and Aurora

If you already have a brand in the market, must be sure to avoid cannibalization. Attributes and brand image should give a product distinct appeal.

New Product Positioning

When developing a new product, a company should identify all the features that are offered by all its major competitors.
Second, identify important features/benefits used in making purchase decisions.
Determine the overall ranking of features by importance and relate the importance of each feature to its "uniqueness": what are the unique selling points (USPs).
For example, you wouldn't buy a spreadsheet program that if it didn't perform basic math, so basic math is very important.
However since every spreadsheet has that it’s an "important fundamental feature", instead of an "important differentiating feature".

The other side would be a spreadsheet that displays all numbers in binary (0-1) instead of "normal" numbers (0-9). This is unique but not important.
The evaluation becomes a 2 x 2 matrix with uniqueness on the X-axis and importance on the Y-axis.
X                        Important to TM (Stockbroker)           X
Math functions                |                        Import Data
                              |                           X
                                                       Binary Data
If the feature is in the upper right hand corner then you probably have a winning feature (USP).
This is known as feature positioning, as opposed to product positioning. One can then see what type of customer needs the important (and perhaps unique) features.
If your spreadsheet accepts continuous data in real-time (such as stock market data) while Excel doesn't, you'd position your spreadsheet as a "real-time spreadsheet with all calculations needed by Wall Street."
Its a claim that tells something unique about your product, who it's for, and by implication, that Excel can't do it.

Product Life Cycle

Popularized by Theodore Levitt, 1965
PLC can be applied to:
  • product category (Watch)
  • product style (Digital)
  • a product item/brand (Timex)
Four Stages to the Product Life Cycle:
1.   Introduction
2.   Growth
3.   Maturity
4.   Decline
The following material refers to the PLC as far as the product category is concerned unless otherwise stated.


Failure rate for new products can range from 60%-90%, depending on the industry. A product does not have to be an entirely new product, can be a new model (car), a new product for the company, or repositioning a product to a new market.

Marketing Mix (MM) considerations

Need to build channels of distribution/selective distribution
Dealers offered promotional assistance to support the product...PUSH strategy.
Develop primary demand/pioneering information, communications should stress the benefits of the product to the consumer, as opposed to the brand name of the particular product, since there will be little competition at this stage and you need to educate consumers of the product's benefits.
Price skimming...set a high price in order to recover developmental costs as soon as possible.
Price penetration...set a low price in order to avoid encouraging competitors to enter the market, also helps increase demand and therefore allows the company to take advantage of economies of scale.


Need to encourage strong brand loyalty; competitors are entering the market place. Profits begin to decline late in the growth stage.
May need to pursue further segmentation.

MM considerations

May need to perform some type of product modification to correct weak or omitted attributes in the product.
Need to build brand loyalty (selective demand), communications should stress the brand of the product, since consumers are more aware of the products benefits and there is more competition, must differentiate your offering from your competitors.
May begin to move toward intensive distribution-the product is more accepted; therefore intermediaries are more inclined to risk accepting the product.
Price dealing/cutting or meeting competition, especially if previously adopted a price skimming strategy.


Sales curve peaks-severe competition, consumers are now experienced specialists.

MM Considerations

A product may be rejuvenated through a change in the packaging, new models or aesthetic changes.
Advertising focuses on differentiating a brand, sales promotion aimed at customer (PULL) and reseller (PUSH).
Move to more intense distribution
Price dealing/cutting or meeting competition
Provides company with a large, loyal group of stable customers. Generally cash cows that can support other products.
Strategies during maturity include:
  • Modification of product...use line extensions
  • Reposition Product
Weaker competition will have left the market place.


Sales fall off rapidly. Can be caused by new technology or a social trend.
Can justify continuing with the product as long as it contributes to profits or enhances the effectiveness of the product mix.
Need to decide to eliminate or reposition to extend its life.

MM Considerations

Some competition drop out
Need to time and execute properly the introduction, alteration and termination of a product.
Cannibalization strategies to introduce new products.
Need to manage product mix through their respective life-cycles. When to decide to introduce new (modified) products that compete with the current product offering.
With high-tech products, need to consider introducing new (and competing) products as the existing product is still in the growth stage of its life cycle.

Different types of Life Cycle Curves

  • Fad Curve
    Fleeting fashions vs. lasting shifts in consumer preference. Cannot differentiate between the two using usual marketing tools like focus groups.
    "Hand anyone a hula hoop, and they'll have fun with it--at first"
  • Seasonal Curve
    Life cycles that vary by season, clothing etc.

Developing and Managing Products

To compete effectively and achieve goals of an organization, the organization must be able to adjust its product mix.
Need to understand competition and customer attitudes and preferences.

Timex Turns down the Swatch

1982, Timex turned down the opportunity to market "Swatches".
Timex was resting on its laurels, simple low cost watches.
Digital revolutionized industry technological change, Timex stuck with analog.
Now consumer owns 5 watches up from 1.5 30 years ago (emphasizing fashion need). Timex has acquired Guess and Monet Jewellers (distribution outlets) in an effort respond to change.
Product mix:
Dressy watches to Walt Disney Character watches, Indigo. Now have 1,500 styles, 300 in 1970.

Developing New Products

Need to develop new products. A new product can be:
  • Continuous Innovation...No new buyer behavior to learn, i.e. -products not previously marketed by the firm, but by others
  • Dynamic Continuous Innovation...minor education needed for consumers to adopt product
  • Discontinuous Innovation...entirely new consumption patterns

DVD Standard

Discussion Topic: Discuss the evolution of the DVD standard and its importance in new product development.
For a new product to succeed it must have:
  • desirable attributes
  • be unique
  • have its features communicated to the consumer (mkt support necessary)
Developing new products is expensive and risky.
Failure not to introduce new products is also risky. IE Timex above
Firms develop new products in three ways:
  • By acquisition, i.e. Timex bought Guess and Monet Jewellers in 1992, bringing in new products to their product mix.
  • Acquiring patents, licensing technology
  • Internal development, this is what we are going to focus on.
About 20K new products a year launched: about 75% are brand extensions.

Why New Products Fail

  • Lack of differentiating advantage
  • Poor marketing plan
  • Poor timing
  • Target market too small
  • Poor product quality
  • No access to market

Seven phases to new product development:

1.   New Product Strategy Development
Only a few ideas are good enough to reach commercialization. Ideas can be generated by chance, or by systematic approach and by company culture (3M). Need a purposeful, focused effort to identify new ways to serve a market. New opportunities appear from the changes in the environment.
2.   Idea Generation
Continuous systematic search for new product opportunities.
o        Marketing oriented sources--identify opportunities based on consumer needs, lab research is directed to satisfy that research. 1-800#s, research etc.
o        Laboratory oriented sources--identify opportunities based on pure research or applied research.
o        Intrafirm devises--brain storming, incentives and rewards for ideas. 3Ms Post it, from choir practice. Hewlett Parkards lab is open 24 hrs. day. Analyzing existing products, reading trade publications.
Brainstorming for your group project. Ideas should not be criticized, no matter how off-beat they are.
3.   Product Screening and Evaluation
New product check list; list new product attributes considered most important and compare each with these attributes. Check list is standardized and allows ideas to be compared.
--General characteristics, Marketing Characteristics and Production Characteristics.
Ideas with the greatest potential are selected for further research.
Do they match the organizations goals (Some companies have many patents that they have not exploited for this very reason.)
Look at companies’ ability to produce and market the product.
Need to look at the nature and wants of the buyers and possible environmental changes.
Concept Testing
Sample of potential buyers is presented with the product idea through a written or oral description to determine the attitudes and initial buying intentions.
Conjoint Analysis to see feature tradeoffs.
This is done before investing considerable sums of money and resources in Research and Development.
Can better understand product attributes and the benefits customers feel are most important.
Would you buy the product?
Would you replace your current brand with the new product?
Would this product meet real needs?
4.   Business Analysis
Analyze potential contribution to sales, costs and profits.
Does the product fit into the current product mix?
What kind of environmental and competitive changes can be anticipated?
How will these changes effect sales etc.?
Are the internal resources adequate?
Cost and time line of new facilities etc.?
Is financing available?
Synergies with distribution channel etc.
MIS to determine the market potential sales etc.
Patentability should be determined, last 17 years, 14 years for a pharmaceutical product.
Find out if it is technically feasible to produce the new product.
If you can produce the new product at a low enough cost so as to be able to make a profit.
5.   Product Development
Develop a prototype, working model, lab test etc.
Attributes that consumers have identified that they want must be communicated through the design of the product.
6.   Test Marketing
Can observe actual consumer behavior.
Limited introduction in geographical areas chosen to represent intended market.
Aim is to determine the reaction of probable buyers.
It is the sample launch of the Marketing Mix.
Determine to go ahead, modify product, modify marketing plan or drop the product.
PROS are:
o        Lessens the risk of product failure.
o        Reduces the risk of loss of credibility or undercutting a profitable product.
o        Can determine the weaknesses in the MM and make adjustments.
o        Can also vary parts of the MM during the test market.
o        Need to select the appropriate MM and check the validity.
CONS are:
o        Test market is expensive.
o        Firm's competitors may interfere.
o        Competitors may copy the product and rush it out. IE Clorox detergent with bleach P&G. "In a live test you've tipped your hand, and believe me, the competition is going to come after you. Unless you have patented chemistry, they can rip you off and beat you to a national launch" -Director of Marketing at Gillette's Personnel division.
Alternatively can use a simulated test market. Free samples offered in the mall, taken home and interviewed over the telephone later.
7.   Commercialization
Corresponds to introduction stage of the Product Life Cycle.
Plans for full-scale marketing and manufacturing must be refined and settled.
Need to analyze the results of the test market to determine any changes in the marketing mix.
Need to make decisions regarding warranties etc (reduces consumers risk). Warranties can offer a competitive advantage.
Spend alot of $s on advertising, personnel etc. Combined with capital expenditure makes commercialization very expensive.
Need to consider:
  • the speed of acceptance among consumers and channel members;
  • intensity of distribution,
  • production capabilities,
  • promotional capabilities,
  • prices,
  • competition,
  • time period to profitability and commercialization costs.

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