Chapter 5 – Market Segmenting, Targeting, and Positioning

5.4 Positioning and Repositioning Offerings


  • Explain why positioning is an important element when it comes to targeting consumers.
  • Describe how a product can be positioned and mapped.
  • Explain what repositioning is designed is to do.

Why should buyers purchase your offering versus another? If your product faces competition, you will need to think about how to “position” it in the marketplace relative to competing products. After all you don’t want the product to be just another “face in the crowd” in the minds of consumers. Positioning is how consumers perceive a product relative to the competition. Companies want to have a distinctive image and offering that stands out from the competition in the minds of consumers. Positioning is not only what you do to a product, but how you want your customer to perceive the product offering. Positioning is often developed based on the marketing mix (product, price, place and promotion) strategies that you develop for your offering. All the decisions around your marketing mix strategy should be designed to support whatever positioning you are trying to create within the minds of the target market segment.

Once you have determined which market segment you plan to target, it is necessary to develop a positioning statement. A positioning statement is not only used internally within the company to communicate how you want customers to perceive your product, but also outside the company, with market research and marketing communication firms. A positioning statement typically includes four elements that describe;

  • Target market characteristics
  • Customer need(s)
  • Customer benefit(s)
  • Clear point(s) of differentiation

An example of a good positioning statement is one from Amazon (parentheses added for illustrative purposes);

“For customers who want to purchase a wide range of products online with quick delivery (customer needs), Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping site (customer benefit). Amazon sets itself apart from other online retailers with its customer obsession, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence (points of differentiation)” (Hart, 2021)

In developing a positioning statement, one of the key features is the point of differentiation (POD). POD is the unique aspect of your offering that cannot be found in any other competitive offerings. It is a unique aspect of your offering that customers value that cannot be found in a competitive offering. Figure 5.2 “Differentiation Strategies” illustrates the major categories and subcategories upon which to develop a point of differentiation.


Differentiation strategies can be developed upon product, personnel, channel and image
Figure 5.2 – Differentiation Strategies
Anthony Francescucci, Ryerson University CC BY-NC 4.0

One way to position your product is to plot customer survey data on a perceptual map. A perceptual map is a two-dimensional graph that visually shows where your product stands, or should stand, relative to your competitors, based on criteria important to buyers. The criteria can involve any number of characteristics—price, quality, level of customer service associated with the product, and so on. An example of a perceptual map is shown in Figure 5.3 “An Example of a Perceptual Map”. To avoid head-to-head competition with your competitors, you want to position your product somewhere on the map where your competitors aren’t clustered.



Figure 5.3 – An Example of a Perceptual Map. From: Figure 5.4. Marketing. by Kim Donahue. CC BY-SA 3.0. Adapted from “Perceptual map – cars” by Mydogategodshat on Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Many companies use taglines in their advertising to try to position their products in the minds of the buyer, where they want them, of course. A tagline is a catchphrase designed to sum up the essence of a product. Wendy’s has used the tagline “It’s better than fast food.” The tagline was designed to set Wendy’s apart from restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King, to plant the idea in consumers’ heads that Wendy’s offerings were less “fast foodish,” given the bad rap fast food gets these days.

Sometimes firms find it advantageous to reposition their products—especially if they want the product to begin appealing to different market segments. Repositioning is an effort to “move” a product to a different place in the minds of consumers. A good example of a brand that has attempted to reposition itself is the men’s body wash “Old Spice”. Due to the length of time on the market, the product used to be perceived as a fragrance targeted at much older men (into their senior years). While its competitors’ offerings, such as the “Axe” body wash brand, were disrupting the body wash market for younger men, Old Spice was perceived to be for old men. In order to reposition the Old Spice brand to a much younger target market, it developed a new ad campaign that caught the attention of this much younger audience (Viau, 2020).

‡ signifies new material that Ryerson University authors have added to this adaptation of Principles of Marketing published by University of Minnesota Library Publishing, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Principles of Marketing, 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © by Anthony Francescucci, Joanne McNeish, Nukhet Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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