Seven Position Strategies For Your Marketing Plan

Updated February 15, 2023

Person stands at whiteboard and draws graph on x/y axis

In marketing, a positioning strategy highlights the unique features that distinguish a brand from its competitors. It refers to how a brand wants to be thought of in the mind of customers relative to competing brands. Learning more about positioning strategies can help you reach your target audience.

In this article, we explore the three keys to strategic positioning and review seven positioning strategies.

Related: Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

What is positioning strategy?

Positioning is a marketing strategy, also referred to as product positioning, to promote your product or service to customers relative to competing brands. The goal is to establish a single defining characteristic for your brand in the consumer's mind. Effective positioning strategies consider the brand's strengths and weaknesses, customer needs, and competitors' claims. Product positioning allows a company or brand to illuminate areas where it can eclipse the competition.

Related: 8 Marketing Interview Questions To Expect

3 keystof strategic positioning

Creating an image and shaping how consumers view a brand is a very purposeful and meticulous act. Background research and an understanding of the market are crucial to your brand's success. Product positioning begins well before creating brand identity and is crucial to branding. The three keys to strategic positioning are often referred to as the three "C's":

  1. Customer: Central to positioning is knowing your focus by identifying what the buyer wants and needs. Research to see if there is a problem customers need a solution for and what needs they might report via surveys, interviews and reviews. Listening to buyer needs and placing a high importance on those needs is pivotal in getting customer attention and loyalty.

  2. Channel: Your channel, or sales team, is central to understanding customer needs and is where you will likely find the majority of information for successful positioning. Your channel is a direct connection to the customer, and through their experience, you can get information such as the customer profile, customer problems, competitive intelligence and the purchase process. With experience in the entire sales cycle, channels will help you identify brand strength to effectively focus your positioning strategy on what you do well as a brand.

  3. Competition: A final step in formulating a product position is paying attention to your competition and its position. If yours is unique and easily differentiated from what is on the market, then your positioning statement (your assertion of brand uniqueness) is effective.

Related: Marketing's Promotional Mix: Definition and How To Use It

Seven types of positioning strategies

There are several different routes to employ positioning strategies. Although there often needs to be a central one, you can use several together for greater market reach and inform your customers through different modes. The seven basic types of positioning strategies are:

1. Product characteristics or consumer benefits

In using this strategy for positioning, the focus is on quality. It addresses the brand's durability, dependability or reliability and style. An example of positioning based on characteristics is when toothpaste companies refer to the product as "refreshing" or "cavity-fighting." A slogan like "stronger than steel" communicates strength and reliability in a market where similar products exist but are differentiated through consistent product characteristics.

Related: How To Highlight Product Features To Attract Customers

2. Pricing

This positioning strategy focuses on the relationship between price and quality and the consumer's perception of the value of a product. In comparing jacket prices, a buyer might assume that a jacket higher in price is higher in quality. Conversely, a lower-priced product will position for affordability. Designer jeans boast quality because of cost, while department store jeans are accessible to all.

Related: The Marketing Mix: The Art of Using the 4 Ps of Marketing

3. Use or application

When a brand reaches a larger market or changes the purpose of the brand or product, positioning may be based on its use or function. For example, a company that advertises its hot tea during colder seasons begins to promote an iced version during the summer to alter its brand's use to reach a larger market through modifying applications. Tape or adhesives often used for home repairs can reposition the brand for decorative or craft projects. Widening the reach accesses a different type of customer.

Related: What Are Product Usage Metrics and How Can They Help You?

4. Product process

This is when a brand is associated with a specific user or class. Endorsements by famous personalities or product influencers are examples. The athleticism exhibited by basketball players who wear specific sneaker brands is expected to be associated with the brand in consumers' minds. In purchasing that brand, the expectation is that all who wear it will be as athletic. Another example is a shampoo, once specifically marketed only for babies, might change the application to people with sensitive hair or scalps. Repositioning based on the application will help a brand expand by sharing the market.

Related: Guide To Understanding Product Development

5. Product class

This consists of positioning two related products in the same product class simultaneously, resulting in an increased customer base. By positioning dried milk as both a breakfast substitute and a protein shake, the appeal is doubled to two different customer needs.

Related: Product Classifications: Definition, Types and Significance

6. Cultural symbols

The objective of positioning based on a cultural symbol is to identify something like a symbol significant to people that hasn't been used by competitors and harness it to associate your brand with that symbol. Airlines have done this with cultural symbols to associate with royal treatment.

Related: Nostalgia Marketing (Definition, How-To Guide and Examples)

7. Competitors (relation to)

Using competitors as a frame of reference to differentiate a brand is another type of positioning. Positioning your brand against competitors is an obvious challenge on quality and asserts that your brand is superior with a competitive edge. For example, one chicken-based fast food restaurant boasts a bovine mascot who encourages customers to eat chicken, aware that most other fast-food chains market beef burgers.

Positioning in relation to or against competitors inferentially acknowledges similarities but focuses on the differences, thus spotlighting your brand over the others.

Related: Differentiation Strategy: Definition, Benefits and Creation

Explore more articles

  • What Is Ratio Analysis? Definition and Uses (With Examples)
  • What Is Ad Copy? (Plus Effective Ad Copy Examples)
  • What Is a Subject Matter Expert? (With 5 Steps To Become One)
  • 8 Strategies for Building Relationships Effectively
  • Switching From a Night to a Day Shift: How To Do It and Tips
  • How To Become a Paralegal in 6 Steps (With Salary)
  • How To Add Commas in Excel in 4 Simple Steps (Plus Tips)
  • Top 10 Qualities of Effective Leadership (With Tips to Implement)
  • 7 Google Certifications for Career Advancement (With FAQ)
  • What Is a 9/80 Work Schedule? Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Top 10 Benefits of Earning a Master's Degree
  • 10 Ideation Techniques for Problem-Solving