Sunday, April 1, 2012
HOW THE STRATEGIC TARGET SETS UP THE POSITIONING
For many years now we have recommended crafting a complete, Strategic Target as the first, best practices step in building a competitive brand positioning. When we say “complete,” we mean with all seven elements:
3. Condition or Occasion or Life-stage
4. Driving Attitudes (about the Condition or Occasion or Life-stage)
5. Current Category Usage (or non-usage) with any Dissatisfactions
6. “Telling” Behaviors—that further support the Psychographics
7. Needs—Rational and Emotional
And when we say “strategic” we mean that the brand team has consciously chosen a target group that the brand can win with better than the competition (as opposed to a non-strategic target, which would be identical to the target of all the other competitors).
The funny thing is that, often when we show an example of a complete, Strategic Target for a brand positioning, one of our marketing clients will say something like, “But it’s so long…so specific!” That’s because it seems to have become a more common practice to state a positioning target in only broad demographic terms—along the lines of “adults, 30-50, of middle-class income, and better educated.” Clearly, though, a target such as this could be addressed by any brand in the category. In addition, it implies the inclusion of all adults with these characteristics, overlooking the obvious fact that in such a broad group there must be many differences in mindset, category usage, and usual behaviors.
As we have discussed in these Dispatches a good many times, setting the positioning target is one of the hardest things brand-builders today are asked to do. If everyone in the organization would be honest, there would be unanimous agreement that no brand, no matter how big, can position itself equally effectively against everyone. So, some strategic choices must be made. But, when it comes time to review and gain agreement to the brand’s positioning (which, by the way, more than any other document should dictate how the company directs its investments/resources to build the brand), making strategic choices seems too painful. The brand team recommends positioning against two or three highly attractive market segments; but senior management pushes back, “make the target bigger: more volume is required.”
Despite this natural give and take, what we have found to be true—in virtually every FMCG, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Device organization we have worked with—is that making the positioning target bigger and broader by no means guarantees more volume for the brand. More often than not, making the target bigger and broader dilutes what limited resources the brand has available…and, for sure, makes it harder to concentrate those resources against the most opportunistic, attractive target segments. No, a brand is best served by investing its limited positioning resources against (1) those consumer or customers who are already loyal and (2) those who have a high propensity to become loyal.
This fundamental concept of concentrating limited company resources against the highest-likely-return target is what underpins our passionate belief in crafting a complete, Strategic Target for the brand’s positioning. But, wait, there’s more! When a brand has a complete, Strategic Target, determining the remaining elements of the brand positioning strategy becomes much easier. That’s because, more than any other of the essential brand positioning elements (Competitive Framework, Benefits, Reasons Why, and Brand Character), the Strategic Target “sets up” the entire positioning strategy. Said another way, while the Strategic Target is one of the 5 brand positioning elements (20%), when done completely it actually contributes more like 50%...it really does do the “heavy lifting.” It’s therefore really worth the time spent on it.
To illustrate what we’re talking about as simply as we can, here’s an inferred Strategic Target that we recently pulled together for the Cuisinart kitchen-appliance brand. It may not be done exactly the way the Cuisinart brand team would do it (because we haven’t worked with them). But is done completely and strategically.
INFERRED Cuisinart® STRATEGIC TARGET
•Demographics – Urban, middle-to-higher income families who routinely prepare home-kitchen food and beverages
•Psychographics – “Casual Culinary-ites” who genuinely enjoy preparing a variety of food and drinks in their own kitchens—but in a simple, spontaneous way
•Occasion – Quick meal-times as well as informal, anytime/spur-of-the-moment snack/social times (alone or with others)
•Attitudes – Preparing a variety of tasty foods and drinks—in your own kitchen—quickly and simply is an essential to enjoy the “good life”
•Current Usage and Dissatisfactions – Use an array of kitchen “table-top” appliances (almost daily) that enable the preparation of a wide range of foods and drinks easily; may have a Cuisinart food processor & a single-serve coffee-maker; sometimes dissatisfied with limited variety that a given appliance offers
•”Telling” Behaviors – Buy an increasing number of “smart, multi-tasking” devices (Smart Phones, Smart Fridge, Hand-Held Blender); opt for higher-tech choices in all their appliances—such as Dyson Ball vacuum; often experiment in making foods & drinks with their table-top kitchen appliances
-Rational – Prepare the widest variety of foods & drinks, quickly & spontaneously
in your own kitchen
-Emotional – Savor the joys of the “good life”
In looking at this inferred positioning target, we hope you right away notice the repetitiveness of the themes: people who enjoy preparing food & beverages in their own kitchens—simply and spontaneously; people who like variety—to enjoy the good life even more. Such repetitiveness is intentional—it forces a focus (that concentration of resources thing) that makes clear we know very well against whom we are positioning the brand.
But, even without seeing the rest of the Cuisinart brand positioning strategy, you can appreciate how this kind of target sets up the ensuing positioning elements:
--Any Dis-satisfactions must be overcome within the Benefits;
--The Needs, in fact, become the positioning Benefits (virtually word-for-word);
--The Needs & Psychographics link to the Perceptual Competitive Framework;
--And the Psychographics & Attitudes inform the Brand Character.
INFERRED Cuisinart® REMAINING POSITIONING
CUISINART is the brand of (Perceptual Competitive Framework)Casual Culinary Customizer competing mainly with(Literal Competitive Framework) other leading-brand table-top kitchen appliances (Kitchen-Aid, Bosch, Braun, etc.)
That (Benefits)Allows you to prepare the widest variety of foods & drinks, quickly & spontaneously in your own kitchen…so you can savor the joys of the “good life”_
1) Consistent “multi-choice” designs (e.g., 4-in-1 griddle-grill; 5 cup-size
brew temp coffee-maker);
2) Fast-acting preparation mechanisms;
3) Heritage of recognized but casual, “approachable chef” preference
(e.g., Julia Child)
The Brand Character is: Cuisinart is the “Barefoot Contessa” of home-kitchen table-top appliances. Like Ina Garten, the brand is familiar, stylishly simple, with a relaxed sense of fun…making everything look easy, and everyone feel “at home.”
Ahhh, the beauty of a complete, Strategic Target!
BOATS & HELICOPTERS:
- Just as the Brand Positioning Strategy should guide all the Company’s resource investments in the brand, so should the complete, Strategic Target guide all the elements of the Brand Positioning. Accordingly, it’s not only the wisest and best place to start any positioning thinking, it is also worth considerable time investment by the brand team. The pay-off is big.
- But remember that “filling in” all the seven elements of a complete, Strategic Target is not something done off-the-cuff or based upon one person’s opinion. Rather, the information in each element should be based upon sound marketplace intelligence about the chosen consumers or customers. Among the reliable sources for this information are the following: Usage & Attitudes Studies, Segmentation Studies, Need-States Research, Shopper Studies, In-Depth Interviews, and Social Media Dialoguing.
- Creative agencies are typically really good at painting a complete target portrait—with many of the elements we include in the complete, Strategic Target. It only makes sense to involve them from the get-go—both their strategic planners, account managers, and (especially) creative teams.
- One other helpful suggestion—toward getting a more likely full-Company consensus around a proposed brand positioning strategy: present for review and approval ONLY the Strategic Target first. Get everyone’s understanding of and buy-in to that…and then agreement to the rest of the positioning should come much easier.
Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney
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