Product positioning is a strategic marketing exercise that challenges teams to decide how they want their product to fit in the marketplace.
Every product has a unique positioning; yours may be that it’s cheaper than the next competitor, faster, more feature-packed, ethical, luxurious, revolutionizing the space, and so on. Product positioning is all about how you want the market to think about your product — and requires you to communicate how it can solve your customers' problems better than its competitors.
As we explored above, there are several different types of product positioning — the one you choose all depends on your target users’ wants and needs.
The most commonly used positioning strategies are:
The price of a product is one of the first tools customers use to compare their options. Not only is cost very important in both the b2b and b2c space, but a product’s price also speaks volumes about its position in the market.
Price-based positioning refers to offering your products at a competitive or lower price versus others in the market. And, most often, consumers choose these products based purely on price — without considering or comparing the other options. The best example of price-based positioning can be found in the grocery store, where promotions help brands compete on cost savings head-to-head.
Brands may also define their market position by associating their product with a certain usage or lifestyle. A finance app, for example, can either be advertised as helping grow your personal wealth through high-risk trading and investments — appealing to a certain fast-paced lifestyle — or it can be positioned as a savings aid for families who want to put a little aside each month.
Products may contain the same or similar features, but the benefits of using those features will be explained (positioned) differently.
Reliability, performance, efficiency, sustainability, aesthetics, and novelty — these are all characteristics that help create a unique positioning for a product. Positioning your product based on these characteristics encourages consumers to develop a certain brand image based on what your product can offer. Just look at how car brands position themselves: Volvo is about safety, Toyota is reliability, and so on.
Remember how we said that price can be a positioning tool? Well, prestige positioning is when brands avoid competing on price — using their higher fees to suggest a product of higher quality or status. A watch is always a watch, and yet Rolex has secured and forever protected its space in the luxury watch market.
We shared a couple of product positioning examples above, but let’s look at a very well-known brand/product positioning in more detail.
Nike is one of the world’s most prominent brands and their products have become known as competitive sportswear for everyone (not just elite athletes). Instead of simply positioning itself as a manufacturer of shoes and sportswear, Nike positions itself as a company that provides athletes of all walks of life with high-quality, fashionable apparel. Better still, these products perform under the most extreme conditions and inspire athletes to excel.
Looking to the tech space, we see great examples of characteristic-based positioning everywhere: "Voted brand with best-performing laptops for three years in a row. The highest-rated HD i10 core processor notebook currently on the market."
A product positioning matrix or map is a visual representation used to measure and compare your product’s position versus that of your competition — the matrix/map visualizes key differences among competing brands across relevant dimensions. These models are used in product positioning strategy work, usually in a matrix format that visualizes competitive differences against two axes.
You can find a product positioning matrix PowerPoint template right here.
When it comes to your own mapping exercise though, you may need to rename the matrices. Think about the comparisons that make sense to your product and competitive marketplace — are you exploring price-based, characteristic-based, or quality-based differentiation for example?
When used well, the product positioning matrix allows you to identify how competitors are positioned relative to your product — revealing opportunities in open segments and risks in overcrowded ones.
A comprehensive look at what product management is and how to distinguish what good product management looks like.