Choosing Your Positioning Approach



From:  New Products Management by C. Merle Crawford.

(A) Position to an Attribute (The most popular positioning devices)

  1. Feature: Toothpaste “with fluoride”.
  2. Function: Shampoo which “coats your hair with a thin layer of protein”.
  3. Benefit: i) Direct: Room Cooler which “saves your money”. ii) Follow on: Toothpaste which “improves your social life.”
  4. Triad of all 3

Nivea Visage skin moisturizer: “New technology liposomes (feature) penetrate under the skin to deliver moisture where it is needed most (function), to make you beautiful (benefit)”.

New DRANO Product: “Thicker (feature), Stronger (function), Faster (benefit)”.

Trying to use all 3 can be confusing.  The marketer has to be careful.

B) Position to a Surrogate (Substitute) (1/3 of all positionings)

Specific reasons why the product is better are not given; the listener or viewer has to provide those.  If the surrogate is good, the listener will bring favorable attributes to the product.  A one-sentence statement of surrogate positioning lets a listener bring perhaps four or five attributes to the product.  Positioning surrogates act much as a metaphor does.  About a third of all positionings today are surrogate.

1. Nonpareil: Because the product has no equal, it is the best (the Jaguar car and Nissan‘s 300ZX, the “convertible of convertibles”).

2. Parentage: Because of where it comes from, who makes it, who sells it, who performs it, and so on.

  • Brand (Le Temps Chanel timepieces)
  • Company (“Everything we know about peanut butter is now available in jars” for Reese‘s peanut butter
  • Person (Polo by Ralph Lauren)

3. Manufacture: Because of how the product was made.

  • Process (Hunt‘s tomatoes are left longer on the vine)
  • Ingredients (Fruit of the Loom panties of pure cotton)
  • Design (Audi‘s engineering).

4. Target: Because the product was made especially for people or firms like you.

  • End Use (Vector tire designed especially for use on the wet roads)
  • Demographic (several airlines have service specially designed for the business traveler)
  • Psychographic (Sprite)
  • Behavioral (Hagar‘s Gallery line for men who work out a lot, “fit for the fit”).

5. Rank: Because it is the best-selling product (Best Foods Mayonnaise: The world’s best selling mayonnaise); not very useful on a new item unless also positioned under parent brand.

6. Endorsement: Because people you respect say it is good.

  • Expert (Roger Federer endorsing Wilson Pro Staff)
  • Emulated (Omega watches designed for James Bond 007)

7. Experience: Because it’s long and frequent use attests to its desirable attributes.

  • Other Market (Nuprin‘s extensive use in the prescription market)
  • Bandwagon
  • Time

8. Competitor: Because it is just (or almost) like another product that you know and like.

9. Predecessor: Because it is comparable (in some way) to an earlier product you liked (Hershey’s new Solitaires addition to the Golden Line).



  1. Positioning drives the entire program — everything. Don’t let dissonance exist between the cues given to the user.
  2. Every positioning, even an obvious one, should be pretested with the intended user.
  3. Contingency positionings should be in place in case the one used flops. The departments involved in implementing the contingency positionings should be informed of the possible change.


Positioning Statement

  • It should be brief, simple and focused.
  • Sacrifice — Brand cannot be all things to all people.
  • Differentiate.


To (Target Consumer), Brand X is the (Frame of reference), that (Point of Difference).

Target Market = Best Potential users/purchasers.

Frame of reference = Product Category.

Point of Difference = Differentiating Attribute.


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