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Brand Positioning

Goals Brand positioning is a critical element in developing effective advertising strategies. Two approaches to positioning are commonly used. One is competition based. Here, the task is to identify the category in which a brand holds membership, and to find ways to distinguish the brand from its competitors on dimensions that are important to consumers. The other approach involves goal-based positioning. Here, the idea is to depict the brand or category in a manner that makes transparent how it is likely to satisfy a consumer goal. Strategies for integrating competition and goal-based positioning are discussed and challenges to effective positioning enumerated.

Brand Positioning
Bud Light is a superior light beer because it has the Budweiser heritage. This simple statement reflects the two elements that are typically included in developing a brand position. One element is the category in which the brand holds membership. For Bud Light, this is the fact that it is a member of the light beer category. The other element is the advantage that the brand holds over other category members. Here the brand's heritage as the king of beers is presented as the brand's advantage. Presumably, this point of difference is one that consumers find important. The statement of a brand's category membership and its point of difference are the fundamental elements in competition-based positioning.

Competition-Based Positioning Current understanding of how people represent information in memory provides a starting point for developing a competition-based positioning strategy. One way information about a brand is stored in long-term memory is in terms of natural categories. Thus, information about Bud Light is stored in memory as an instance of the subcategory light beer. In turn, light beer is an instance of the category beer which is an instance of the superordinate category alcoholic beverage. As is represented schematically below, the objects Bud Light, light beer, and alcoholic beverage are nodes in memory that are related to each other hierarchically by associative bonds. The bonds imply that the object lower in the hierarchy (Bud) is an instance of the object that is higher in the hierarchy (light beer).

Hierarchical Organization of Natural Categories It should be recognized that there could be more than four levels and that these might be worth assessing. For example, we could add a fifth level to the hierarchy under Bud Light that indicated whether the brand form was bottle or draft. In most cases, however, only two levels of the hierarchy, the brand and the category in which it has membership or frame of reference (Bud and light beer) will suffice for analytic purposes. At each level in the hierarchy, an object might be associated with attributes, people, and occasions. Attributes are physical characteristics of a product such as its color, size, and flavor. People and occasions together are regarded as image. Most advertising is some combination of attributes and image, though for some categories the advertising is predominantly attribute based (computers), whereas for other categories advertising is predominantly image based (fragrances). Attributes and image imply some benefit. A benefit is an abstract concept such as convenience, pleasure, or fun. The rationale for a benefit is the fact that it has some attributes, and/or that certain people use it on particular occasions. In the Bud Light example, the attributes might be the brand's carbonation, the people might be young adults and the occasions might be after work. In some instances, the benefit is supported by an irrelevant attribute as a means of persuasion. For example, Natural Silk Shampoo claims that it puts silk in every bottle. This attribute is irrelevant to the silkiness of hair. Irrelevant attributes are persuasive because they suggest that there is a reason to believe the benefit. (Carpenter, Glazer and Nakamoto, Journal of Marketing Research, August, 1994). A debate sometimes arises about whether a product feature is an attribute or a benefit. For example, taste might be considered an attribute that affects the benefit enjoyment. Or, taste might be viewed as a benefit, where its attributes are the amount of sweetener and the amount of carbonation. From a strategic perspective, the important task is to 2

assess the antecedents and consequences of a feature and to decide whether the antecedent, feature or consequence (or some combination of these characteristics) should be highlighted. It matters less whether the feature is termed an attribute or a benefit.

Category Membership For highly established products and services, category membership is not a focal issue. Consumers know that Coca-Cola is a leading brand of soft drink and that Kellogg's Corn Flakes is a leading brand of cereal. Category membership for leading business-tobusiness brands is also obvious to the purchaser. However, there are many situations where it is important to inform consumers of a brand's category membership. Perhaps the most obvious situation is the introduction of new products, where the category membership is not apparent. When all-natural cereals were introduced, the issue was whether to position them as healthy cereals that tasted better than other cereals in the healthy category or great tasting cereals that were superior to others in the category because they were all-natural. There are also situations where consumers know a brand's category membership. But because consumers may not be convinced that the brand is a good member of the category, advertising that announces category membership is warranted. For example, consumers may be aware that Dell produces computers. But they may not be certain whether Dell computers are in a class with say IBM or Compaq. In this instance, it might be useful to reinforce category membership. There are a variety of ways to convey a brand's category membership. Benefits are frequently used to announce category membership. This is done to ensure consumers that a brand will deliver on the fundamental reason for using a category. Thus, industrial motors might claim to have power, and analgesics might announce their efficacy. These benefits are not presented in a manner that imply brand superiority, but merely that the brands possess these properties. Benefits that imply category membership are common to most, if not all brands, and thus they are sometimes referred to as points of parity. Attributes and image can be used to provide rationales that give message recipients permission to believe that a brand has the benefit that implies membership in a category. A cake mix might attain membership in the cake category by claiming the benefit of great taste and support this benefit claim by identifying attributes in the form of the high quality ingredients that are included in the product (attributes) or by showing users delighting in its consumption (image). Attributes and image might also be used in their own right to claim membership. An electronic device might be positioned as a computer by emphasizing that it has memory, a monitor, a keyboard, and can be used for electronic mail. Alternatively, describing the people who use the electronic device and the relevant occasions of use informs the consumer about the brands against which an advertised product is intended to compete. In beer advertising, varying the age of the drinker and the place in which consumption occurs influences whether the brand is viewed as competing in the super3

premium, premium, or price category. When image is used to create membership, a brand attribute is often used to create a point of difference. Thus, 7UP is positioned as a soft drink by its occasions of use. It is distinguished from other soft drinks by the fact that it is colorless in appearance and it has a tart taste, both of which imply the benefit superior thirst quenching. Exemplars are also used to specify a brand's category membership. Subaru advertising compared the brand to Volvo, not because they compete for the same customers, but because this approach represents an efficient way to say that Subaru is a member of the safe car category. Similarly, Wheaties introduced a pre-sweet cereal by telling consumers that if they liked Frosted Flakes, they should try Wheaties Honey Gold. The idea was not to compete with Frosted Flakes, but to tell consumers in an efficient way that Wheaties Honey Gold is a member of the adult pre-sweet cereal category. And when Tommy Hilfiger was an unknown designer, advertising announced his membership as a great American designer by associating him with Geoffrey Beene, Stanley Blacker, Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis. The preferred approach to positioning is to inform consumers of a brand's membership before stating its point of difference in relation to other category members. Presumably, consumers need to know what a product is and what function it serves before they can assess whether it dominates the brands against which it competes. For new products, separate campaigns are generally needed to inform consumers of membership and to educate them about a brand's point of difference. For brands with limited resources, this implies the development of a campaign that establishes category membership prior to one that states a point of difference. Brands with greater resources can develop concurrent campaigns where one features membership and the other the point of difference. What typically does not work for new brands is an effort to inform consumers of membership and point of difference in the same campaign.

Points of Difference A sound positioning strategy requires the specification not only of the category in which a brand holds membership, but also how a brand dominates other members of its category. A starting point in developing a point of difference is to examine product features broadly construed to include the various elements of the marketing mix that might distinguish a brand from its competitors. Benefit Selection. To identify potential benefits that might serve as points of difference, it is useful to identify accepted consumer beliefs. What are consumers' beliefs about the category that might be used to promote a benefit? For example, the (false) belief that honey is nutritionally superior to sugar led General Mills to produce Honey Nut Cheerios. When a brand cannot dominate competitors on a factor that reflects an accepted consumer belief, an effort is made to teach consumers beliefs that imply the brand's benefit. Illustrative of such market driving strategy is the campaign by Listerine that convinced consumers that its bad taste was what made it effective.

The strongest positions are ones in which a brand has a clear point of difference on a benefit that prompts category use. Large brands are generally promoted using these benefits. Thus, advertising for Tide detergent stresses superior cleaning power and Microsoft claims the most advanced software. Category leaders often follow this strategy even when they do not have superiority in relation to competition. They use their superior ad budget to outshout competition and thus claim the benefit that drives the category for themselves. Smaller brands typically attempt to establish a niche as their point of difference. This is achieved by using the category benefit to establish category membership and by selecting some benefit other than the focal one for the category to establish brand dominance. IBM presents its cutting-edge technology as its point of difference, whereas WinBook positions its brand as a technologically advanced product at a low price. For many years, Jif was positioned as the best-tasting peanut butter, whereas Skippy was positioned as the great-tasting brand with the greatest nutritional value. Number of Benefits. In developing a brand position, it is important to limit the number of benefits that are presented, particularly when broadcast media are used to transmit the message. Conveying a benefit often requires an elaborate demonstration that not only depicts the benefit but also provides consumers a reason to believe the benefit. This reason to believe usually takes the form of a physical characteristic. Thus, the amount of information required to convince people of the benefit generally precludes identifying more than a single benefit in broadcast advertising. If it is important to convey more than a single benefit, this can be done in a pool of ads, each of which features a single benefit. Alternatively, several benefits can be conveyed when the message is to be transmitted in print, because the processing of this information is audience-paced. Even when one benefit is presented to represent a brand's point of difference, it is often the case that multiple benefits are described in an ad. This occurs because one benefit is introduced to support category membership and another is introduced to establish a point of difference. When multiple benefits are presented, caution is needed to limit the likelihood that one benefit undermines another. For example, it might be difficult to announce that a brand is inexpensive and at the same time assert that it is of the highest quality. Similarly, it might be inappropriate to claim a product is nutritional and good tasting, or is powerful and safe. When these situations arise, it might be judicious to focus on only one of the conflicting benefits. Normative Benefits. In selecting a benefit, marketers must assess whether the benefit motivates consumption or whether it is a normative benefit. Normative benefits are ones that customers say are important because of societal standards rather than because these benefits actually influence behavior. For example, people frequently claim safety is an important factor in their selection of cars and that nutrition is an important factor in their selection of food products. Inspection of their consumption choices, however, often reveals that these benefits are not important determinants of the brands selected. Apparently, consumers rate safety and nutrition highly because it would be inappropriate in their roles as parents, homemakers, or responsible adults to do otherwise. It is important to note that when nutrition, safety and the like are normative features, they are not powerful points of difference. 5

It is often difficult to detect whether a feature is normative factor or a determinant of consumer behavior. For some segment, safety might be a critical factor in the choice of a car, whereas for others it is normative. One way to assess whether or not a benefit is normative is to conduct research in which consumers are asked to evoke spontaneously the benefits that they find important. The absence of a factor from a spontaneously generated list that was evaluated as important when consumers were asked about it directly raises the possibility that this factor is normative. Alternatively, if different groups of respondents evaluate a benefit's importance differently, it may be construed that something other than a normative factor is operating, though it is possible that what is occurring is that one group is more normative than another.

Summary Competition-based positioning can be represented by the following positioning triangle. Membership in the category is developed by highlighting the benefits that a brand shares with other members of the category or by relating the brand to a category exemplar. Providing a rationale for believing a benefit gives consumers a reason to believe a membership claim. This rationale typically takes the form of some physical characteristic. Once a brand has achieved membership in the category, its advantage over other category members is presented in terms of benefits that represent points of difference. Again a rationale might be provided to enhance the likelihood that consumers will believe the brand's point of difference.

Competition-Based Positioning Triangle

Competition-Based Positioning: Miller Lite vs. Bud Light We describe the emergence of the Bud Light brand to illustrate the steps in
developing a competition-based position. In the mid-1970s, Miller Brewing Company introduced a brand that was called Lite beer from Miller. This was not the first attempt to introduce a light beer. Gablinger had marketed such a product in the late 1960s. That brand was positioned as a dietetic beer. Ms Light, a thin young woman, served as the spokesperson for the brand. Consumers exhibited little interest in the category. In contrast, Lite beer from Miller was positioned as the beer that tasted great, but had fewer calories than regular beer. The advantage of this product was that users could drink more without getting filled up. The campaign, which was developed by Backer Spielvogel, targeted 18-34 year old males with blue-collar occupations, who were the heavy users of the beer category. The campaign was supported by the endorsement of ex-athletes and other beer-drinking personalities and aired on television during sports programming. The result was impressive sales of Lite. Consumption of the brand was substantial inhome as well as in bars and restaurants, where 30% of all beer is sold. Unexpectedly, however, the majority of users were not the 18-34 year-old heavy drinkers of beer. Rather, more moderate drinking 25-44 year old professionals were the dominant Lite users. This observation raised the question of why a campaign directed at inducing greater consumption among young downscale users was successful in prompting consumption among more upscale and older users? It also created a dilemma for Miller. Should they stay with a campaign that was extremely well known and popular, but offstrategy in that it was aimedat heavy users rather than the moderate users, or should they risk the development of a new campaign that recognized the motivations of the light user? Miller chose to stay with the off-strategy campaign. Miller did make some effort to speak to the more upscale consumers who were the primary users of the light category. This involved using ex-athletes who were known more for their mental quickness than for their physical prowess. Anheuser-Busch (A-B) viewed Lite's introductory campaign as a potential threat to their Budweiser brand, which at the time commanded 43% of the beer market. A-B responded by entering the light market in 1977 with the premium Natural Light brand and in 1978 with a superpremium Michelob Light brand. The logic behind these introductions was that A-B dominated Miller and other brewers in distribution, and this domination would enable A-B's new light brands to emerge as strong players in the light category. By 1982 the fallacy of A-B's strategy became apparent. Light beer represented about 20% of the beer category. The flagship Budweiser brand had suffered some share loss and neither Natural Light nor Michelob Light offset this loss. Indeed, Lite had over 50% of the light beer market and Coors light entry was the second leading beer in the light category. A-B introduced Budweiser Light in 1982. The goal was to market a brand that, unlike Natural Light and Michelob Light, would have a strong point of advantage in relation to Lite. The advantage was the heritage of Budweiser, the king of beers. The introductory 7

campaign was targeted at the 25-44 year old professionals, which by this time all light beers were targeting. The position was the light beer with superior quality because it is made by A-B. The introductory campaign featured a Clydesdale horse, which was an icon that A-B had associated with their Budweiser brand, running free on the beach and the slogan "bring out your best." The voice-over explained that the brand had been developed slowly over time with the same care, quality, and commitment that went into Budweiser to ensure that it lived up to the heritage of Budweiser. Subsequent executions showed season-appropriate sports including football, hockey, skiing and baseball. Each was aired during sports programming. Business results were impressive. In 1982, Budweiser Light sold more product than Lite had in its first three years, and by the end of 1983, Budweiser Light achieved a 20% share of the light beer market. At the same time, Budweiser Light had failed to make significant inroads in the out-of-home market. Apparently, when people asked for a Budweiser Light in bars and restaurants, they were more often than not being served either Miller Lite, or a regular Budweiser. As a result Lite beer from Miller maintained a market share of over 50% in the light category. A-B also found that a substantial percentage of Budweiser Light sales were at the expense of the flagship Budweiser brand. To address these concerns, A-B made several changes in their marketing program for 1984. One change was the brand name from Budweiser Light to Bud Light. The other was to introduce a new campaign called Make it a "Bud Light". It focused on the fact that Bud Light was a light beer and that if they just asked for a light they might get any number of different objects that were not Bud Light beer. It was anticipated that this campaign would be run for several months and then Bud Light advertising would return to the heritage focus that had been used to launch the brand. However, when it was found Bud Light's sales increased in response to bar call, the campaign was run for five years. In 1987, Miller Lite was still the leading brand in the light category and had actually maintained its advantage over Bud Light. Sales of both brands had grown substantially as light was now almost 30% of the beer market. A-B was particularly concerned about these developments because the growth of the light category was largely at the expense of their Budweiser brand. Indeed, many of the heavy-drinking blue-collar males under 25 were abandoning regular beer for light beer. In addition, the growing consumption of white wine and soft drinks were limiting growth of the beer category. In an effort to capture the under-25 heavy user, A-B segmented the market and developed two campaigns. One was focused at the 25-44 year old professionals, who were the traditional users of the light category. The other campaign was targeted at the under-25, heavy user of beer. It featured a dog named Spuds MacKenzie, a party animal who attracted the attention of beautiful women. Coincident with these campaigns, Bud Light share of the under-25 market grew dramatically and it began to reduce the share advantage that Miller had enjoyed in the light category. In the early 1990s, Bud Light campaigns featured spots directed at both its younger and older users. In 1995, the "I love you man" campaign featuring Rob Fitzgerald was aired to reinforce Bud Light's identity. 8

As their share and sales began to decline in 1990 and 1991, Miller Lite sought a campaign that would deliver news. Leo Burnett aired "It's it and that's that!" that used Lite's leading position in the light beer category as the point of difference. When share and sales fell, price adjustments were made to increase the value of Lite and the slogan was changed to "I like it like that!" Sales continued to fall and the advertising was again changed, to build more directly on the heritage of the brand. This involved expanding the heritage of lightness and taste by exploring the combination of other disparate things. While these moves slowed Lite's erosion somewhat, between 1991 and May 1996 Lite shipments continued to fall, eventually coming to rest at 80% of peak brand sales. Research conducted in 1996 indicated that heavy users of beer perceived the Miller Lite drinker to be accountants, librarians and ministers and Miller Time was associated with work and reward In 1997, Miller's CEO Jack MacDonough decided that a dramatic change was needed if Miller Lite was to reestablish its position as the number one light brand. He hired Fallon McElligott, the hot Minneapolis agency. Their charge was to attract 21-24 year olds with the proposition that "Miller invites you to Miller Time, where it's always fun, entertaining and unexpected -- anything can happen." Two Swedes, copywriter Linus Karlsson and art director Paul Malmstrom, developed the Miller Time campaign. These creatives were under 30 and were best known for work on Diesel Jeans in Europe, which included humorous references to American culture. During 1997, Fallon produced 45 Miller Time spots, up from seven the previous year. The idea was to keep the attention of an easily bored target. The first three were "Intro, Field, Magician and Adios Amigos". The reaction was generally unfavorable. The Advertising Age creative critic Bob Garfield called it "Smug, masturbatory...antiadvertising," and USA Today's Ad Track polling indicated that consumers found the advertising to be the most disliked spot ever measured. However, Adweek critic Barbara Lippert called "Adios Amigos" a refreshing portrayal of the "direct effect of the brewer's art." By the end of 1997, the light category had 40% share of the beer category sales and Bud Light had 9.6% of the overall beer category. For the first time, Bud Light surpassed Lite beer from Miller, which had slipped to a 8.8% share. The Budweiser regular beer had 22% share of the beer category and Anheuser-Busch brands had 45% of the beer market.

Goal-Based Positioning
Competition-based positioning focuses strategy on the competitor. The effort is to dominate competition on benefits important to consumers. While this type of positioning provides a sound way to develop a brand position, at some point, brand growth may require building on this position not by focusing on the competition, but by attempting to show how the brand relates to consumers goals. This involves inferring what motivates consumers to use a brand and then positioning the brand so that its essence implies goal attainment. The process by which this can be achieved is termed laddering up, and the product of laddering up is brand essence. 9

Brand Essence Laddering up is based on the notion that in developing a product point of difference, two types of characteristics are considered. One is attributes and image, and the other is benefits. These characteristics are related to each other in a specific manner. As we noted earlier, attributes and image are concrete factors that can be used to infer a benefit, which is abstract. In turn, a benefit can be used to infer more abstract benefits. By analogy, these inferences are like rungs of a ladder, that become more abstract and general as you ascend the rungs. Thus, an initial campaign might emphasize some attribute of the product, a second generation might move up a rung on the ladder by stressing the benefit of that attribute. Subsequent generations address inferences implied by the benefit as a means of moving up the ladder until a point is reached where the benefit defines the essence of the brand. Brand essence is related to some consumer goal. We refer to this approach as laddering, and when the progression is from attribute to benefit to more abstract benefit we refer to the process as laddering up. This process is shown schematically below.

Laddering Up A US West cellular advertising campaign illustrates a laddering up approach. The focus of the initial advertising spot was on unique product features that made the service reliable. In a second generation, advertising examined the implication of having reliable service, which is that there would be less concern about being tied to the office to await important calls. Following this approach, the next generation of advertising might focus on the implication of having the freedom of movement afforded by a cellular phone. Similarly, McDonald's fast food restaurants initially focused advertising on the cleanliness of the stores, and the good tasting food, which implied that McDonalds is fun. Cleanliness and good taste also suggest that McDonalds is a good place for kids, which implied peace of mind and freedom to pursue personal goals for parents. In effect, laddering up involves repeatedly asking what the implication of an attribute or benefit is for the consumer. 10

Laddering from attribute to benefit to more abstract benefit provides a basis for informing consumers of a brands essence. A question that arises at some point is how should the brands essence be represented in advertising. Examining how consumers think about the meaning of a brand provides insight into this issue. Fourniers description of one of her respondents, Jean, illustrates one consumers representation of brand essence (Journal of Consumer Research, 1997). Jean is a 59-year-old woman who was an illegitimate child of a father she did not know. When Jean was growing up, there was a continuing debate in her family about whether she should be put up for adoption. Jean discovered that performing household tasks well was a means of gaining approval and acceptance in her family. Brands that supported her in these activities won her loyalty. Consider the prominence of brands in Jeans description of her sauce-making ritual:

When I make sauce, it takes all day. I let it cook on the stove for 8 hours. I have a really big pot. Stainless steel from Revere Ware. 12 quarts. The best pot I ever had. I bought one for my daughter too. The sauce doesnt burn in it and stick to the bottom like it used to with my old one. I blend the Pastene tomatoes in the blender. Whole tomatoes. Kitchen Ready it says on the can. Now I use three at least, maybe about four cans usually. And I add a can of Hunts special sauce. Just a taste. Then if it is going to be a meat sauce, I fry up the sausage in a frying pan with the Bertolli olive oil and a little bit of onion. And sometimes I make meatballs. I make big meatballs. Why bother with small meatballs? They get hard that way when you cook them. This way, a meatball, a sausage and you have a full meal. I make the meatballs with an egg and a little milk mixed into the breadcrumbs. That keeps them moist when they are cooking in the sauce. I use the Italian flavored breadcrumbs, Progresso, and I buy the meat at Johnnies, they have the best.

The brand essence of Bertolli can be inferred by the other brands with which Jean associates it. Revere, Pastene, Hunts, Progresso, Johnnies are related to Bertolli. All share the perception that they are the highest quality in the category. This enhances the likelihood that Jeans sauce will meet her standard, allow her to gain the approval of her family, and feel good about herself. Thus, Bertollis brand essence, and for that matter the other brands with which it is associated, is that of a trusted and reliable old friend. This gives Jean confidence, which helps Jean to achieve self-esteem. A similar scenario can be used to describe the essence of other brands that Jean uses. Windex ("no streaks"), Spic and Span ("no residue"), and Zest soap ("no ring in the tub") are all selected to enhance the likelihood that Jean will perform these tasks well, allow her to prove her value anew, gain the acceptance of her family, and feel good about herself. Advertising that features brand essence uses the insight that consumers classify disparate product categories together because they share a benefit that is related to their goals. For example, advertising for McDonalds depicts a blind date, in which a man named Larry calls on his date. He immediately attempts to manage her expectations by clarifying who he is and who he is not. He indicates that he is not a doctor, lawyer, banker or CPA, rather he is a clerk in a record store. He states that they will not be dining at a place that calls itself a bistro, casa, or maison, nor will they attend a play, the opera, the symphony or the ballet. Instead, he proposes McDonalds and a movie. These assertions suggest that McDonalds is a down-to-earth place and the bedrock of the community. This brand essence is attractive when consumers goal is enjoying an unpretentious meal. 11

McDonalds Brand Essence The association of a brand to other objects often results in the anthropomorphizing of the brand. Thus, brands often have a gender, age, and social class, as well as personality characteristics. Burger King is masculine and McDonald's is more feminine. Apple Computer is young and IBM is mature. Alpo is downscale and Science Diet is upscale. Marlboro cigarettes are seen as honest, genuine, spirited, dependable, romantic and tough. A recent study by Jennifer Aaker (Journal of Marketing Research, 1997) suggests that there are at least five personality dimensions that can be related to a brand: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. The elaboration of demographic characteristics of a brand as well as its attributes of character implies its essence. A more general version of the above schematic can be represented so as to make explicit the differences between competition and goal-based positioning. The diagram below depicts two locations in consumers memory. One location represents information about a brand and inferences about its essence. Another location represents consumers goals. As the diagram suggests, consumers perception of the relationship between a brand and other objects is one of complementarity. These points of complementarity converge to imply the brands essence. Brand essence has points of commonality with consumers goals that allow the consumer to infer the goal that might be achieved by using the brand.

Category Essence A focus on consumers goals as the basis for positioning can be undertaken at a category level as well as a brand level. Like brand essence, category essence can be achieved by relating the brand to other objects that imply the essence of the category 12

that is related to some goal. However, any device that makes salient the connection between the category and some goal can be used to deliver category essence. To illustrate the notion of category essence, consider the following statement describing the essence of beer for 18-34 year old men and how it might be used to develop advertising.
These individuals may feel confronted by the complexities and conflicts of everyday life. They are confused and perhaps depressed about how to achieve harmony between their desire to discharge their primal passions and the constraints imposed by society. They desire intimate relations without the attendant commitment. They are searching for the opportunity to give expression to their talents without being encumbered by the pedestrian demands imposed by formal organizations. Beer allows these individuals to indulge themselves and perhaps to make less salient the conflict between their aspirations and the demands imposed on their behavior.

Insights along these lines were the basis for Special Export advertising that offers insight about category essence. Category essence uses insight about how a category fits with consumers goals as a brands point of difference. The assumption is that if consumers perceive a brand to understand their problems, that brand is the solution. There are a substantial number of campaigns that offer testimony to the effectiveness of this strategy. Ramada showed the problems travelers encounter at comparable hotels and implored consumers with the slogan "Next time Ramada." No rationale for why Ramada would be superior in handling these problems was given beyond the suggestion that if Ramada understood the problem, it was the solution. Similarly, Lee Jeans showed the difficulties women encountered in trying to get into jeans. Consumers were urged to buy Lee jeans to remedy this problem, though no rationale for this choice was provided. Category essence may be a viable way for a brand to compete when it does not have a product point of difference. However, a focus on category essence is a strategy of last resort. If a brand had a superior means of differentiating, it would speak to it directly using a competition-based approach. Further, as more categories have become commodities, the use of category essence has increased. The result is that advertising develops a sameness that depicts consumers attitudes rather than brand features as the brand news, and impact of the advertising is compromised. Laddering Down While it is appropriate to focus on laddering up in the context of a discussion about goalbased positioning, some mention of laddering down is also warranted. Laddering down involves giving credence to the assertion that a brand delivers some benefit. Laddering down often occurs in the context of a laddering up campaign as a means of reinforcing the foundation on which brand essence is built. More generally, laddering down is used to provide a reason for consumers to believe a benefit in the context of competitionbased positioning. For example, laddering down is in evidence when Lexus provides support for the contention that it is of the highest quality by showing the tightness of the cars metal joints, or when Reebok uses its pump attribute to give credence to its claims of superiority in its shoes comfort. 13

Summary All positioning efforts take consumer goals into consideration. Even when announcing a brands category membership, a connection to some goal is implied. What distinguishes goal-based positioning is the depth of understanding sought about consumers goals in using the brand. The implications of a brands attributes and benefits are used to infer a brands essence. In advertising, brand essence is often expressed in terms of a brands relation to other objects that share a benefit related to consumers goals. Goal-based positioning can also be developed at the category level, a strategy that is usually pursued when a brand is at parity with competitive offerings: Insights about consumers goals in using the category serve as a brands point of difference.

Integrating Competition and Goal-Based Positioning: The Value Equation


The discussion of competition-based and goal-based positioning makes evident that these approaches differ primarily in their focus. The integration of these approaches is often captured in the analysis of brand value. As a starting point in illustrating how this is the case, we assess the notion of brand value as it existed in the 1980s: Value = Product/Service Quality Price This is a conceptual definition rather than a mathematical one. Quality is evaluated in terms of average or mean performance as well as in terms of variance about that mean. A Toyota Camry is viewed as being of high quality because it receives favorable scores in terms of styling, comfort, and engine performance, and because the car is perceived to deviate very little in its performance on these dimensions. The dominant way to provide value in the '80s was to offer superior quality at a competitive price. When the substantial economic downturn occurred in 1987, consumers notion of value began to change. While product or service quality remained an important factor in determining value, psychic quality was given increased attention. This refers to the feelings or emotions and other abstract benefits related to using the product or service. Psychic benefits can thus be viewed as those that we defined in terms of brand essence. As with the value equation of the 1980s, in the 1990s, the price charged for goods and services was an important consideration in the determination of value. Indeed, by the early 1990s, price was often the single most important consideration. Value involved providing the same quality at a lower price. Private-label brands emerged as leaders in many categories because of their reasonable quality and significantly lower price in relation to the leading brands. The response of leading brands has been to reduce the price disparity with private labels and thereby enhance the value of their offerings. While it is well known that the price of the product or service is a cost, it has only recently been realized that time related to a purchase transaction and product use are 14

also important costs. In the U.S., there has been a contraction of leisure time and an expansion of work time. Between 1980 and 1990, the average American increased his or her work hours from 40 to 48 and reduced leisure time from 21 to 16 hours. With downsizing in the 1990s, the average worker has added about another 45 minutes per day or one additional month per year of work time. The consequence is that many people now experience time famine, or lack of time to accomplish the tasks they feel need to be managed, and time has become an increasingly important factor in customers assessments of value. The predominant strategy used to cope with time famine is multi-tasking. This typically involves accomplishing some goal while engaging in some obligatory activity. People make phone calls while driving in their cars, they eat while driving, they exercise while walking to work and the like. There has also been an adjustment in the choices that are made. The population of dogs in this country has reached an asymptote, while the population of cats has increased, in part because cats require less time than do dogs. The purchase of nutritional pet foods such as Science Diet has grown dramatically, in part reflecting consumers efforts to reduce the incidence of a pets digestive distress that might require time-consuming visits to the veterinarian. The purchase of push lawn mowers has increased 150% during 1996 on sales of 250,000 units, in part because these devices enable the user to exercise while accomplishing the grass-cutting chore. The value equation that reflects these considerations can be represented as: Value = Product/Service Quality + Psychic Quality Price + Time

Goodyears Value The value equation offers a means of linking a brands position to the marketing mix. Consider for example, Goodyears strategy in marketing tires during the mid-1990s. Goodyear is the largest producer of tires in the U.S. with over 13% share of market. However, because sales and share were stagnant for several years, research was conducted to aid in developing business-building ideas. These data indicated that a variety of criteria guided the choice of tires. Attribute Tread life Wet traction Snow traction Dry traction Weight 10 6 2 .5

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While a tire that offered an advance in tread life would be highly attractive to customers, there had not been a major innovation on this attribute since the steel belted tire was developed in the 1960s. Michelin supported its brand with advertising that focused on safety. The typical ad showed a baby sitting inside a Michelin tire rolling safely down a road. Research also indicated a dramatic change in consumer tire purchase behavior. Whereas the decision to purchase a replacement tire typically was made over a period of about a month during the sixties, in the mid-1990s, over 50% of consumers made a tire purchase within two days of recognizing the need. Almost all consumers made the tire purchase decision within a week of problem recognition. Goodyears response to these observations was to develop a new strategy. In part, this was reflected in the introduction of a new tire called the Aquatread (1, 2 ) . It had a deep groove around the middle of the tires circumference to throw off water from under the tire, and thus increase traction in wet weather. In addition, Goodyear launched three new products. While these were not as innovative as the Aquatread, they served to underscore Goodyears prominence as a technological leader in the tire category. Aquatread was a premium priced tire, which is consistent with the positioning of the brand as the state-of-the-art in the category. Perhaps most important, the cost of time was reduced by increasing the number of outlets where Aquatread and other Goodyear tires could be purchased. Goodyears 2300 captive outlets were bolstered by the addition of Sears and discounters, a channel strategy that increased outlets by 35%. The response was impressive. One year after launch, earnings had increased by 25%, the stock price tripled in three years, and consumers intent to buy Goodyear increased dramatically while the intent to buy Michelin dropped.

Value: The Infiniti Case In 1985, the Nissan Motor Corporation sent a group of its engineers to live in the US. The idea was for them to learn about how the affluent American consumer lived and what sort of automobile features might fit with this lifestyle. By 1988 a clear picture seemed to emerge. There was a relatively young upscale segment that composed about 7% of the American population. In the early 1980s, members of this segment were significant purchasers of expensive watches, designer suits, antique furniture and European luxury cars. The stock market crash of 1987 and the expected recession significantly dampened this segments enthusiasm for expensive product offerings. The fact that over 60% of the young upscale segment was married with kids prompted them to adopt a value orientation. And as described earlier, these consumers were time famished The Launch Strategy. In response to these trends, it seemed that a luxury car that provided good value was needed. This implied a car that had the same high quality and invariant performance as was available in Mercedes Benz, BMW and other European luxury cars, but at a significantly lower price. In addition, it appeared that it would be advantageous to develop a car that acknowledged time famine by requiring infrequent 16

service. When servicing was needed, it should be structured in such a way so as to minimize customers inconvenience. Along these lines, a facility that catered only to the luxury segment and that provided loaner cars when service was needed seemed appropriate. As Nissan approached the 1989 launch date, Toyota aimed to preempt them with their new Lexus luxury car. Lexus was to be launched in August 1989 at the beginning of the 1990 new car season. It was positioned as a European luxury car that was $20,000 less than a comparable Mercedes Benz. There was a rumor circulating at the time suggesting that Lexus 400 was given this designation to highlight the fact that it was $20,000 less than the Mercedes 420 with which it competed. Lexus was to be sold at exclusive Lexus dealers that offered free loaner cars when the customers car was in for service. Nissans introduction of its new entry into the American car market, the Infiniti was planned for November 8, 1989. The line was to include the Q45, a large sedan that was priced at about $38,000, which was competitive with the Lexus and was $20,000 less than Mercedes Benz. Infiniti also produced an M30 performance coupe, priced at under $30,000. As the second entry into the luxury market from Japan, Infiniti believed that it was important to stand apart from both Lexus and the European luxury cars. Infiniti was positioned as the luxury car that provided exceptional value because of its ergonomic design. The car was aerodynamically superior to its competitors with special attention to human engineering. In part, this was achieved by eliminating the grill. The door handles were huge and inviting, like the front door to ones house. The leather-covered seats were constructed to provide firm support rather than softness to the touch. The Infinitis buttons for the radio and power windows provided a pleasurable experience when touched. To ensure excellent service, Nissan put its sales and service representatives through extensive training. The rigor of this training was such that relatively few dealers could be staffed in time for the Infinitis launch. As a result, Infiniti had about 20% of the dealers that Lexus had when the doors were opened to the public. Infiniti dealerships were stand-alone facilities that sold and serviced only Infiniti cars. The plan called for Infiniti dealers to provide free loaners to customers who brought their car in for service. At launch, however, Infiniti dealers set themselves apart from the competition by offering a service whereby they picked up cars at the customers homes and left a loaner until the car was returned after service. In late October 1989, Nissan aired an unconventional pre-launch TV and print campaign for its line of cars. The Zen-like advertising developed by the Boston advertising agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopoulos showed rocks and trees that were accompanied by philosophical copy. No product shots were included. Just prior to launch, another TV execution was introduced, again without a shot of the car. This execution featured an older man presenting his views to a younger individual over lunch. Infiniti planned to spend $60 million on advertising, a substantial portion of it in prime time television advertising. The mass media campaign was supported by a direct marketing effort that 17

involved sending detailed literature to upscale zip codes across the country. Infinitis goal was to sell 30,000 units in the first year. When consumers were asked at the end of November 1989 to think back to ads they had seen recently and to indicate which was the most memorable, Infiniti received the most mentions. Apparently the uniqueness of the copy as well as the heavy introductory spending on advertising made Infinitis advertising campaign highly memorable. By December, Infiniti was the third most memorable advertising campaign, and by April 1990, it had fallen to number 10. Second Generation Strategy. The initial Infiniti campaign stirred substantial consumer interest. By the end of 1989, Infiniti had received 60,000 phone inquiries, 35,000 people had visited Infiniti showrooms. But only 1,773 cars had been sold. It was clear that people knew the brand name Infiniti, and that they were curious about what it was, but few people were willing to spend $30 or $40 thousand on a rather plain looking car with no grill and hard seats. As David Hubbard, Infinitis national ad manager acknowledged at the time: "We all would like to stick with the nature campaign, to do more with it, but w

Challenges to Effective Positioning


Even when the principles of positioning are understood, there are a variety of impediments to their successful implementation. At times, effective positioning is undermined by the poor selection of benefits to feature in advertising. In other instances, advertising is compromised by the failure to sustain a brands position.

Choosing Benefits and Goals When entering a category where there are established brands, the challenge is to find a viable basis for differentiation. A frequent occurrence is that the superiority claim selected is not one that is important to consumers. Along these lines, several analgesic brands have found limited demand for the claim that their brand was long lasting or that infrequent dosing was required. Most consumers have fast relief and not long lasting relief as a priority. Indeed, long lasting may imply slow actingjust the opposite of what is desired. A variant of this problem emerges when a benefit on which a firm dominates is important to some consumers, but not to the ones who are responsible for brand choice. For example, several cereals in the past 20 years have tried to position themselves as good tasting nutritional kid cereals. The problem is that the point of difference appeals to the purchaser in a category where demand is prompted by kid requests (pester power), and kids primary interest is in great taste, not nutrition. One approach to addressing the concern that any single benefit may be unimportant to some segment of consumers is to claim multiple benefits. In so doing, the hope is that 18

brand will offer something for everyone. This approach to differentiation may also emerge as a means of compromise when strategists cannot agree on the benefit to promote. Such positioning by committee or any other multiple benefit approach is often fraught with problems. One benefit claim might undermine another; for example, consumers are skeptical of products that claim high quality and low price. Further, claiming a variety of benefits can confound consumers efforts to define what the product is. The Motorola Envoy was a personal digital assistant that claimed the benefits of a computer and a cellular phone. Consumers could not figure out whether Envoy could replace either of these products. Palm Pilot had greater success by positioning the product as an electronic appointment book. Similarly, as we saw in the Grainger case, enumerating many benefits obscured the communication of why consumers should prefer Grainger stores.

Sustaining a Position in a Dynamic Marketplace Once a position is developed, most of the activity is directed toward sustaining it in a contemporary way. For example, Coca-Cola has been positioned as the soft drink that provides superior taste for many years. While this position has not changed, advertising has continually sought to instantiate superior taste in a modern way. Sustaining a benefit over time often serves as a barrier to competitive entry. We document this premise by examining the competition between Eveready and Duracell in the alkaline battery category. Eveready vs. Duracell. In 1974, Duracell became the first company to advertise alkaline batteries on television. These batteries cost about twice as much as the then more popular zinc carbon batteries, but lasted six times longer. Duracell developed advertising illustrating how its brand outlasted alternative batteries in a variety of different products. In what is perhaps the most memorable execution, a room full of mechanical pink bunnies were shown beating on snare drums. At the end of the ad, only the Duracell bunny that was powered by Duracell was still in motion. This campaign aired until 1984. In 1986, Ralston Purina acquired Eveready and immediately attempted to grow its franchise through market segmentation efforts. This involved splitting the zinc-carbon business into Eveready Classic and Eveready super heavy duty. In the alkaline segment, Energizer was the flagship brand, though Eveready also introduced Giftmates, a brightly colored version of the Energizer that was intended for festive occasions such as Christmas, and the Conductor, which was to be particularly appropriate for use in audio equipment and targeted to audiophiles. The initial campaigns that Ralston developed for Energizer involved attempts to personify the brand. A campaign featuring tough guy actor Robert Conrad challenging people to show him a better battery did little to grow the Energizer franchise, and a campaign that used 1984 U.S. Olympic star gymnast Mary Lou Retton to personify the batterys energy was no more successful. This lackluster performance prompted Ralston 19

to put the account up for review, and eventually to replace the incumbent William Esty agency with DDB Needham. While the U.S. campaigns were not effective, Eveready had been running a campaign in Australia that was enjoying remarkable success. It featured a bombastic Aussie ex-rugby player named "Jacko" Jackson. Evereadys CEO, J.P. Mulcahy decided to run the Jacko spots in the US. Mulcahy recounts "It was one of those management things where you say we feel good about this, it worked someplace else. At the same time, (wrestler) Hulk Hogans movie had come out; we figured Jacko was going to do a movie too. And we thought (that) maybe we have a real opportunity here. So without much real testing, we really stepped into it, and almost immediately I was getting maybe 10 negative letters a day on Jacko and how much he was hated." Mulcahy took responsibility for the Jacko campaign. "I directed Needham to do the campaign. They did not want to do it. And what we found was video vampirism, with a poorly conceived campaign sucking the life out of the product in the marketplace." By the end of 1988, Conductor had about a one share of the battery market despite a $10 million expenditure, Giftmates had failed and Energizers share of market (36.9%) lagged behind that of Duracell (39.2). Needham was given a new assignment. They were asked to go back to basics as a means of leveling the playing field. The response, which was aired in October 1988 was Energizers first bunny commercial. In it, a pink marauding electrical bunny powered by Energizer keeps on going, intruding on other commercials in the process. For example, in one spot, the Bunny marches into 15-second commercials that are parodies of coffee, decongestant and wine commercials that were common on TV. The Bunny is part of the parody, as a likeness of it has been used for years in Duracell ads to show Duracells long life. Eveready management was prepared to extend this ad into a campaign. Needham resisted in the belief that the idea was not substantial enough to serve as the basis for a campaign. Eveready hired Chiat/Day to execute the campaign. Chiats first ad was aired in October 1989. It featured the bunny breaking into contrived and phony commercials. The campaign was supported by heavy ad weights. Eveready spent about $22 million in the last quarter of 1989, which was double the expenditure for the last quarter of 1988 and far more than Duracells $15 fourth quarter 1989 advertising expenditure. The initial response surprised Eveready. It showed that Duracell had increased its share to over 40% share of market, whereas Eveready dropped to 36% share. The problem was thought to be a lack of connection between the advertising and point of purchase. To remedy this problem, Eveready referred to their bunny advertising in their retail displays and sustained the campaign. Media placements were chosen so that Eveready spots wrapped around ads for other products. Thus, an Eveready ad would be shown then a spot for, say, some hair grooming product and then another Eveready ad. When this had an adverse effect on the impact of the advertising of the products that were surrounded, Eveready wrapped its commercials around Ralston spots. The adverse effects to these ads resulted in the 20

abandonment of this media device. For the next six years, Eveready ran variants of its Bunny ad. Duracell sustained its position as the technological innovator. In the early 1990s, it did so by introducing a battery tester that allowed the purchaser to assess the amount of life left in a battery. Advertising showed how Duracell-powered toys outlasted the competition. In the mid-1990s, the toys were replaced by people dressed up to look like Claymation characters. Again the characters presumably powered by Duracell outlasted those powered by the competition. In 1998, the U.S. alkaline battery market was estimated to be a $3 billion business. Twothirds of the batteries sold are alkaline and the remainder are the older zinc carbon technology. Seventy-five percent of all battery sales are for AA and AAA batteries. Duracell share is estimated by A.C. Nielsen to be at about 48% share and Evereadys at about 36%. Energizer has disputed these numbers claiming that Nielsen fails to include battery sales in retail outlets such as toy stores and warehouse clubs. The industry is growing rapidly, at about 8% per year behind the diffusion of such highdrain products as palm-sized computers, digital cameras, and cellular phones. The estimate is that about 17% of AA and AAA batteries are used for high-tech applications and that this will grow to about 28% by 2003. In response to the rapid growth in battery sales, Energizer launched new AA and AAA batteries in 1997 as replacements for their earlier entries. They supported the introduction with advertising stating that their batteries were longer lasting than Duracells for high-tech applications. In 1998, Duracell, which had been acquired by Gillette, launched Ultra. This is a line of longer lasting AA and AAA batteries. Unlike Eveready, Ultras are sold at 20% higher than its regular line and they are marketed alongside Duracells regular alkaline batteries. The idea is that consumers have a choice between the Ultra lasts 50% longer than ordinary alkaline batteries in high-drain products and the regular alkaline for other uses. Research conducted by Duracell indicated that 70% of consumers would be willing to pay the premium price for Ultras. Duracell supported its introduction of Ultra with a $60 million advertising campaign. Eveready responded with a $200 million global campaign. While sustaining advertising serves as a barrier to competitive entry, it also reduces the strategic alternatives available to a brand. For example, P&G introduced Dash detergent to attract consumers who used front-loading washing machines. Dash was the low sudser that was required for such machines. Many years of advertising Dash in this manner made this position impenetrable by other brands. In fact, Dash was so associated with front-loaders, that when this type of machine went out of fashion, so did Dash. This outcome occurred despite the fact that Dash was among P&Gs best detergents and that efforts were made to develop new positions for the brand. Firms sometimes undermine the ability to develop a sustained ad campaign by their approach to the launch. Rather than attempting to establish the brands position as a foundation for future advertising, the goal of introductory advertising is seen as creating awareness. The belief is that once consumers are aware of the brand, the position may be developed. While awareness is important, advertisers should not settle for this goal in 21

introducing a brand. It is far more efficient to establish brand awareness and the brand position at the outset of a campaign. Consider the advertising campaign for Apple that was originally developed by the Chiat/Day advertising agency. The firm spent $1 million to air an ad once on the 1984 Superbowl. This spot to introduce Macintosh, not only created brand awareness, it also established the brand position. The ads run subsequent to the Superbowl spot in 1984 attempted to support Macintoshs position, as the spot book illustrate. In 1985 an effort was made to repeat the 1984 Superbowl execution with a spot called "lemmings (video) ." After this campaign, BBDO was hired as Apples agency and the advertising efforts became focused on supporting and extending the 1984 Apple position to different levels of the organization. Power Lunch (1987) was targeted at middle level managers, Decorators (1992) at top management, and Diner (1996) at small business operators. Even when positions have been sustained for some time, firms sometimes unwittingly abandon their position in response to some minor change in consumer preferences, or in an effort to generate incremental volume for a brand. For example, the emergence of a consumer disposition against sugar in kids ready-to-eat cereals led several brands that had sugar in the brand name to adopt a new name. Sugar Crisp, for example, dropped sugar from its name and the brand icon Sugar Bear. In effect, the brand walked away from its equity and sales plummeted. A diet bar brand that consumers used primarily as a lunch substitute attempted to add incremental volume by promoting its use as a snack. This position appeared to undermine the main occasion of use by leaving consumers wondering about whether one wafer was too much for a snack when the firm was recommending two wafers as a meal.

Summary of Positioning Strategy


In the figure below, a schematic of positioning issues is summarized. Establishing category membership is the first priority. This can be achieved by presenting a benefit and the attendant attributes or image to support the benefit. Alternatively, attributes or benefits alone might be used to introduce a brands position. In some cases, an exemplar might be used to establish membership. If consumers know a brands category membership, focus centers on establishing a point of difference. A starting point along these lines involves finding a product point of difference. Leaders should consider the benefit that drives the category, and outshout competition on this benefit. Followers should consider adopting a niche, where they have a barrier to competitive entry. Over time, consideration should be given to laddering whatever the firms market rank. If no product differences that are important to consumers are available, the viability of using a superior understanding of the consumer might be considered to establish a point of difference. Here category and brand essence may be of value in establishing a position that resonates with consumers because they perceive that the firm understands what they experience with regard to the category and can satisfy their goals. In the absence of a product or consumer point of difference, it is worthwhile to examine some other opportunity.

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