Our Position On Positioning
Guest post by Bob Oros
A critical element for success
Positioning development is one of the most critical elements for new product success, one that, if improperly defined and executed, can virtually turn a big idea into a small(er) idea and, conversely, turn a small idea into a bigger one. We’re highly sensitive to this issue as we’ve seen a number of “miscues” over the years. Some due to poor insights derived from customers, others due to bad information concerning constraints which precluded the study and evaluation of viable options, and others due to a preference to shoot from the hip.
While the preponderance of our business consists of licensing, innovation development and qualification, we’ve conducted a number of positioning assignments over the years. As with our concept generation process, a disciplined approach is taken to ensure as many stones as possible are turned over, so we go wide before going narrow. Most of these assignments entail ‘new to the world’ products creating new categories or category expansion or are simply “new new” ala Waterjet Robotics. That’s where our experience base, perspective and resource capabilities can best be leveraged.
Casting a wide net
In terms of process, concept test or brand image results can provide clues and insights with respect to prime prospects, usage expectations, competitive framework, etc. If these are not available, key assumptions are made based on general category attitude and usage information. The objective is to throw the net as wide as possible to pull in potential triers or to reinforce pending purchase decisions among prime prospects. Therefore, an array of positioning statements are developed to determine which maximizes Year I sales potential.
One aspect that is overlooked more often than not is trier satisfaction which determines repeat purchase. Under-promising can suppress Year I trial, but over-promising can be devastating to repeat business, even if the product is superior to competition because triers will judge the product vis-à-vis claims. If performance matches the promise, they’re satisfied, if not, they’re disappointed and retreat to former favorites.
Research is essential
As a rule of thumb, the more unique and different the product, the greater the need for positioning research and development. For example, better-for-you wheat bread could be positioned against the wheat bread segment to attract current wheat bread users, thereby harvesting new users for sales and share gains. OR, it could be positioned against bread users per se to attract non-wheat bread users for category expansion to generate even higher sales and share gains for the brand from a larger segment.
In closing, positioning strategy sets context for the prime prospect to determine whether or not to make the purchase decision. Toward that end, the message must be attention getting, engaging, compelling and motivating…..and the product MUST deliver!
Bob Oros is the President of Business Development Resources Inc. Founded in 1983, the company offers an array of business building services to assist clients achieve their growth goals. For 33 years, Bob has used his considerable experience to aid strategic growth initiatives, new business and new product development, innovation, brand and technology licensing, and technology sourcing.