BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
For millennia, branding has served as a means of distinguishing one producer’s goods from those of another. To businesses, brands are extremely valuable pieces of legal property that can influence customer behavior, be purchased and sold, and provide the owner with the assurance of long-term revenue. Shopping is made easy by well-known brands. Customers and branders both benefit from brand marketing. A strong brand saves time and effort for marketers, and in some cases, a company’s brand name is the only aspect of its marketing mix that a competitor cannot imitate. Good brands can also help a company’s image by accelerating the acceptance of new items sold under the same name.
Aside from selecting which market categories to target, the company must also decide on a value proposition, or how it will create differentiated value for those segments and what positions it wants to occupy within those segments. Companies must pursue appropriate differentiation and positioning, and each company and its product must represent a separate big concept in the target market’s thinking. Given the numerous brands on the market, a company’s marketing strategy must carefully analyze both the strengths and weaknesses of competitors in order to aid the product positioning assignment.
There are three steps to the differentiation and positioning task: Identifying a set of differentiators that can be used to gain a competitive advantage, picking the best competitive advantages, and deciding on a strategy.
Product positioning, in essence, extends market segmentation by identifying the market target that management wishes to pursue. It identifies the market segments where the company wants to concentrate its marketing efforts; these are the markets where the company is most likely to gain a competitive edge.
Because consumers are inundated with information about products and services, they classify products, services, and companies into categories and “position” them in their thoughts to make the buying process easier. Marketers, on the other hand, do not want to leave their product’s position to chance, therefore they must plan positions that will provide their products the most benefit in certain target markets, as well as marketing methods to achieve these positions.
Gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage is the key to exceptional performance. Companies can obtain a competitive advantage by differentiating their product offerings to provide higher customer value or managing for the lowest delivered cost. When these two sources of competitive advantage are joined with the scope of competitive activity (wide or narrow), four generic strategies emerge: differentiation, cost leadership, differentiation, and cost focus.
The selection of one or more decision criteria that are employed by numerous purchasers in a sector is referred to as a differentiation strategy. The company then presents itself in a unique way to meet these requirements. Customers will choose one product over another if it is differentiated. To build a distinct position, a company must first comprehend the nature and location of the competition.
The superior skills-distinctive capabilities of key personnel that set them apart from competitors’ personnel-and the superior resources of a firm-tangible requirements for advantages that enable a firm to exercise its skills-include the number of salespeople in the market, expenditure on advertising and sales promotion, distribution coverage, expenditure on research and development, financial resources, brand equity, and a variety of other factors. When a consumer feels that the firm is providing value above that of the competition, these talents and resources are transformed into a differentiated advantage.
The goal of positioning is to establish and maintain a distinct market position for a company and its products while also competing successfully in a target market.
Brands were differentiated based on product performance in areas such as speed, comfort, and safety, capacity and convenience of use, and improving taste or odor. Product development was a cornerstone of business activity, and every brand marketer’s goal of continuous product improvement was well-known. While corporations continue to invest substantially in R&D and seek a product performance advantage wherever they can, it is a marketing cliché that distinctions in performance are now often modest at best.
Due to the lack of major product performance differences, marketers have typically focused on alternative marketing resources such as broad distribution coverage and/or careful distributor site selection to provide customers with convenient purchase options. To put it another way, products that are easily accessible will, all other things being equal, be more popular.
Promotion: Brand communications, advertising, and promotions are the most widely pursued marketing solutions.
At a time when items operate similarly, availability differences are typically little, and price differentiation is often just ephemeral, great advertising messages can carve a lasting and unique place in the minds of a receptive audience.
Price is another marketing tactic that is frequently utilized to promote differentiation. The problem is figuring out how to “own” a long-term price advantage that is real (or perceived). Short-term discounts, deals, and price promotions can give a brand the appearance of distinctiveness and a pricing advantage. However, because the stated purpose of brand marketing is to increase consumer loyalty (i.e., not simply trial, but recurring business), a short-term benefit isn’t worth it.