‘To the adult woman bothered by the odor of her external genitalia’–and other brand positioning stories
Q: After listening to a talk you gave on “the latest in brand positioning” some years ago at a PMA (Philippine Marketing Association) seminar, we changed our product’s brand positioning model to one of the models that you showed at your talk. We were then having a brand positioning problem and the change helped us a lot. But now, we’re experiencing again a problem with our change in positioning.
We’re sorry we can’t tell you our brand and the specific problem it’s having. We hope you understand and will still help us. Do you have anything on “the latest in brand positioning” that may help us once more?
A: Yes, we have a new set of the “latest models” in brand positioning. It’s too bad you can’t tell us your brand and the specific brand positioning problem it’s experiencing. Our answer could have been just as specific. Being specific makes our problem diagnosis and our Positioning Rx much more useful and relevant.
Now, just because something is the latest does not necessarily mean it’s better than its predecessors. In fact, one of the successful new brand positioning models is a consolidation of the previously popular ones. Over the years, several marketing professors and practitioners developed many variants of the original model that gained many loyal adopters and advocates.
Original positioning model: the UAI
The most used positioning model is the UAI-based (Usage, Attitude, Image) positioning. That dates way back to the late 70s and early 80s when Al Ries and Jack Trout popularized the brand positioning concept.
The model has two basic positioning premises. First, engage consumers by positioning your brand in a value that consumers prioritize. So, start by “finding out what’s important to consumers. Second, motivate consumers to favor your brand by making it satisfy the priority value better than its competition. This is done by finding out your brand’s differentiator—its USP.
Consumer value is known by many other terms: “consumer need,” “consumer benefit and product feature,” “product attribute,” “consumer goal,” and “consumer expectation”. Differentiator has its own set of synonyms including the often-heard “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition): “distinctiveness” and “PoD” (Point of Difference). The Marketing discipline isn’t doing anything to standardize the language. Why should it anyway? The increasing vocabularies add to the color and appeal of marketing practice.
Since the early 80s, the basic model went through two different but related sets of variants. One set prescribed positioning only on consumer values, which came to be known as “market positioning” – positioning only on what’s important to the market. The other set claimed that the winning positioning model is about what’s different in your brand versus competition. This came to be known as “competitive positioning”.
Latest model: brand positioning statement
The latest consolidated these two sets of variants and defined brand positioning as the sum of market positioning and competitive positioning. It was also a combination of marketing authorities (David Aaker, the brand equity inventor, Kevin Keller, and Brian Sternthal) who did the consolidating into what’s now termed as “BPS” (Brand Positioning Statement).
Let’s understand exactly what is new with BPS. For this purpose, we diagnose a specific case example: pHCare feminine wash.
Before consolidating its market and competitive positioning, pHCare’s BPS would have simply said: “pHCare is a feminine wash that eliminates – not just deodorizes – odor from the lady’s unwashed external genitalia (market positioning) unlike Lactacyd and other femwash brands that are more for vaginal care, rather than for the external genitalia (competitive positioning).”
After consolidating, the complete BPS of pHCare says: “To the adult woman bothered by the odor of her external genitalia (PTM), pHCare eliminates-not just deodorizes – that odor (PPV, market positioning) unlike Lactacyd and other femwash brands that are more for vaginal care (PoD, competitive positioning). pHCare has a 5.5 pH balance that’s specifically suited for daily use in the external genitalia as against all other femwash brands that have a pH balance of 3.5, which is more suited for vaginal application in cases of infection like UTI (RtB1). Sharon Cuneta herself attests to this difference (RtB2), and so does her OB-Gyne, (RtB3).”
Let’s clarify first the acronyms. PTM stands for Primary Target Market; PPV, Priority Product Value; PoD, Point of Difference; and RtB, Reason to Believe.
Where is the difference between the before versus the after-consolidation BPS? How did that difference make the latest BPS a more powerful and effective brand positioning? We’re out of space. We’ll answer and continue next Friday.
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