Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's Your Best Position?, Part 2

Once you’ve decided on your best position, your next job is to communicate it clearly and creatively in a cogent theme that helps build a distinctive brand personality that resonates with Baby Boomers. Only then will you be able to get the share of mind required to get a healthy share of the Boomer market.

As you create your position, don’t fall into the Superlatives Trap. Deal in reality. Understate some of your benefits. “We’re number 2, we have to try harder” turned out to be a brilliant position for Avis Rent A Car even though it made it appear that the company was taking a backseat to Hertz. The key to its enduring success was a clear and memorable statement of a crucial consumer benefit. In the same vein, you have to create a position that convinces Boomers that you’ll try harder to please them in every possible way, from the quality of your products through customer service.

And once you’ve established your position, you have to be consistent. In the early eighties, Seven-Up® crafted a very intriguing position when it called itself the UnCola. This position succeeded in sharply differentiating the brand, setting it apart from major competitors. Rather than consistently building on this strong position through the years, however, Seven-Up eventually defaulted to the tired soft drink technique of lifestyle advertising, with predictable results. The lesson is clear: If you vacillate, so will your customer base.

As an aside, right now, KFC® is resurrecting the Un- idea, asking consumers to UnThink what they know about the kind of chicken the company sells. Although this is clearly derivative, it’s going to make a very interesting case study because the brand seems to be intent on at least partially unseating a well-established idea, i.e., KFC=fried chicken, and replacing it with a new line extension concept KFC=grilled chicken, too. This is tricky business, because they certainly don’t want to switch people over to grilled chicken in a way that cannibalizes their flagship product. It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.

Establishing the best possible position is especially crucial for retailers. During peak promotional periods, most of these businesses look and sound the same because they all articulate very similar shrill messages. (Buy Now! Save Money! Do This Or Die!) And almost all of this shouting is done in a decidedly uncreative way. The problem with this myopic approach is that if you look and sound like you’re just one of the rabble, you’ll never become a leader.

Although it’s true that positioning isn’t easy, if you can manage to stake out a unique niche in the Boomers’ collective consciousness (with a firm foothold in the subconscious, as well), you’ll have a share of mind that nothing else can occupy, and that’s the key to increasing your share of market.

Bottom line: Effectively answer the question,What’s Your Best Position?, and you’ll take an important step toward the Boomer Buying Center.

1 comment:

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