What is Positioning?

Positioning refers to the strategic process of establishing a distinct and valued place for a brand, product, or service in the target market's mind relative to competitors. It's about differentiating the offering by highlighting unique features, benefits, or values that are important to the target audience. Effective positioning leverages marketing communication to shape consumers' perceptions and preferences, aiming to make the offering the preferred choice within its category.

Purpose and Role of Positioning

The primary purposes and roles of positioning include:

  • Differentiation: Establishing a clear distinction from competitors on aspects that are meaningful to the target market.
  • Communication: Clearly communicating the unique value proposition to ensure that the target audience understands and appreciates the distinctive benefits of the offering.
  • Preference: Influencing consumer preference and purchase decisions by aligning the product's attributes with the target audience's needs and desires.
  • Competitive Advantage: Creating a sustainable competitive advantage that can be defended over time, often leading to increased market share and customer loyalty.

Elements of Effective Positioning

  • Target Market Identification: Defining the specific segment of the market that the product or service is aimed at.
  • Market Needs and Desires: Understanding the needs, wants, and preferences of the target market.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluating the positioning of competitors to identify gaps and opportunities for differentiation.
  • Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Articulating a clear statement that describes the unique benefits of the product or service, how it meets the market's needs, and what distinguishes it from competitors.
  • Consistency: Ensuring that all marketing messages and experiences consistently reinforce the positioning statement across all touchpoints.

Positioning Strategies

Several common positioning strategies can be employed depending on the market context and the organization's objectives:

  • Attribute or Feature Positioning: Focusing on a specific product attribute or feature that is unique or superior to competitors.
  • Benefit Positioning: Highlighting the primary benefit or advantage that consumers gain from using the product or service.
  • Use or Application Positioning: Targeting a specific use case or application where the product excels.
  • User or Customer Positioning: Focusing on a specific user group or customer segment that finds particular value in the product.
  • Competitor-Based Positioning: Defining the offering in relation to competitors, often by highlighting superior features, benefits, or value.
  • Quality or Price Positioning: Emphasizing superior quality, luxury status, or value for money as the primary differentiator.

Challenges in Positioning

  • Market Saturation: Differentiating in a crowded market where many products may offer similar features or benefits.
  • Changing Consumer Preferences: Adapting positioning strategies in response to shifts in consumer attitudes, values, or behaviors.
  • Consistency Across Channels: Maintaining a consistent positioning message across various marketing channels and customer touchpoints.
  • Measuring Effectiveness: Quantifying the impact of positioning strategies on consumer perceptions and purchase behavior.

Positioning vs. Market Positioning

While closely related and often used interchangeably in marketing discussions, market positioning, and positioning can denote slightly different concepts depending on the context.

  • Positioning is the process by which marketers strive to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its brand, product, or organization. It's about how a product is perceived in the context of competitive alternatives. Effective positioning involves differentiating a product from competitors in a way that makes it more attractive to a particular target market. It's a strategic exercise that forms a foundational piece of a marketing strategy, influencing marketing mix decisions (product, price, place, promotion).
  • Market Positioning refers more specifically to the place a brand or product occupies in a market or segment in the minds of target customers, relative to its competitors. It focuses on how the product is positioned within the market. This means looking at where a brand stands in terms of market share, consumer perceptions, and competitive advantages within a specific market. Market positioning is achieved through the combination of product features, price, communications, and distribution strategies to occupy a distinct position in the market.

The difference, though subtle, can be summarized as follows: positioning is the broader strategy of shaping a product's image in the overall market, including aspects of branding, value proposition, and customer experience. Market positioning is more about the product's or brand's place within a specific market segment or against specific competitors based on those strategic decisions.

In practical use, however, these terms are often used synonymously to discuss how a product is differentiated from its competitors and how consumers perceive it. The key takeaway is that both concepts deal with the strategies used to influence consumer perceptions and competitive dynamics, although the focus or scope of each may differ slightly.


Positioning is a foundational element of marketing strategy that directly influences the success of a brand, product, or service in the competitive marketplace. By effectively positioning their offerings, companies can create a distinct market presence, build brand equity, and drive consumer preference and loyalty. It requires a deep understanding of the target market, competitive landscape, and the unique attributes of the offering to craft a positioning strategy that resonates with consumers and achieves desired business outcomes.

See Also

Positioning refers to the process by which marketers strive to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. It's a strategic exercise that involves differentiating a company or product from its competitors and making it stand out as a provider of unique value to its customers.

  • Market Segmentation: Exploring how dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs, interests, and priorities helps businesses tailor their strategies, including positioning, more effectively.
  • Brand Management: Discussing the process of analyzing and planning how a brand is perceived in the market. Effective brand management enables the price of products to go up and builds loyal customers through positive brand associations and images.
  • Competitive Analysis: Covering the importance of understanding market competition, including the strengths and weaknesses of existing and potential competitors, and how this informs a company's positioning strategy.
  • Value Proposition: Explaining how businesses communicate the unique value they provide to their customers compared to their competitors, which is a critical aspect of positioning.
  • Marketing Mix 4P's 5P's: Discussing the combination of product, price, place, and promotion strategies in creating a marketing program that supports the positioning strategy.
  • Consumer Behavior: Exploring how understanding the buying behavior of the target market influences positioning strategies, including perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and purchasing activities.
  • Advertising Strategy: Covering the role of advertising in communicating the chosen position to the target market through various channels and media.
  • Product Differentiation: Discussing how businesses develop and promote the unique features of their products or services to make them stand out in the marketplace, a key tactic in positioning.
  • SWOT Analysis: Explaining the use of a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis in determining the positioning strategy by identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving organizational objectives.
  • Brand Equity: Exploring the value a brand adds to a product or service, which can be a result of effective positioning strategies that create positive brand associations and loyalty.
  • Digital Marketing: Discussing how online platforms and digital strategies are used to reinforce positioning messages, reach target audiences, and monitor positioning effectiveness.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Covering the practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving customer service relationships and assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.