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Creating the Perception of a Product, Brand or Company Identity

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Trout and Ries

Summary of Positioning. Abstract

Jack Trout (1969)

Al Ries

Positioning (Pos.) is a marketing method for creating the perception of a product, brand, or company identity. Beginning in 1969 (the term was coined in a paper by Jack Trout: Pos. is a game people play in today’s me-too market place, Industrial Marketing, Vol.54, No.6, June 1969, pp.51-55) two young marketing guys, Jack Trout and Al Ries, wrote, spoke and disseminated to the advertising and PR world about a new concept in communications called positioning. Their 1981 book on Pos.: The Battle for Your Mind became a bestseller. Until then, agencies had primarily been basing their media campaigns on internally conceived benefits of the client's product.

According to Trout and Ries, "Pos. is not what you do to a product. Pos. is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position (place) the product in the mind of the prospect". Since that time in marketing, Pos. is the technique in which marketers try to create an image or identity for a product, brand, or company in the perception of the target market. What matters is how potential buyers see the product. It is expressed relative to the position of competitors. Typical Pos. tools include graphical perception mapping, market surveys, and certain statistical techniques.

A successful positioning strategy is usually rooted in a company's sustainable competitive advantage.
Pos. can be based on several things, including:

  • Product features

  • Benefits, needs, or solutions

  • Use categories

  • Usage occasions

  • Placing and comparing it relative to another product

  • Product class dissociation


Conceptually, three bases of Pos. can be distinguished:

  1. Functional Positioning (solve problems, provide benefits to customers)
  2. Symbolic Positioning (self-image enhancement, ego identification, belongingness and social meaningfulness, affective fulfillment)
  3. Experiential Positioning (provide sensory stimulation, provide cognitive stimulation)

Typically, a product
Pos. process involves the following stages:

  • Identify competing products

  • Identify the attributes (also called dimensions) that define the product 'space'

  • Collect information from a sample of customers about their perceptions of each product on the relevant attributes

  • Determine each products' share of mind

  • Determine each products' current location in the product space

  • Determine the target market's preferred combination of attributes (referred to as an ideal vector)

  • Examine the fit between: the positions of competing products, the position of your product and the position of the ideal vector

  • Select optimum position

T I P : Here you can discuss and learn a lot more about positioning in branding and marketing.

Compare with Positioning:  Marketing Mix  |  Extended Marketing Mix (7-Ps)  |  Ansoff  |  Porter Competitive Advantage  |  BCG Matrix  |  Product Life Cycle  |  GE Matrix  |  Innovation Adoption Curve  |  Profit Pools  |  Four Trajectories of Industry Change

More management models


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