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Brand Positioning, 3 C’s of Positioning

Brand positioning refers to “target consumer’s” reason to buy your brand in preference to others. It is ensures that all brand activity has a common aim; is guided, directed and delivered by the brand’s benefits/reasons to buy; and it focuses at all points of contact with the consumer.

Brand positioning must make sure that:

  • Is it unique/distinctive vs. competitors ?
  • Is it significant and encouraging to the niche market ?
  • Is it appropriate to all major geographic markets and businesses ?
  • Is the proposition validated with unique, appropriate and original products ?
  • Is it sustainable – can it be delivered constantly across all points of contact with the consumer ?
  • Is it helpful for organization to achieve its financial goals ?
  • Is it able to support and boost up the organization ?

In order to create a distinctive place in the market, a niche market has to be carefully chosen and a differential advantage must be created in their mind. Brand positioning is a medium through which an organization can portray it’s customers what it wants to achieve for them and what it wants to mean to them. Brand positioning forms customer’s views and opinions.

Brand Positioning can be defined as an activity of creating a brand offer in such a manner that it occupies a distinctive place and value in the target customer’s mind. For instance-Kotak Mahindra positions itself in the customer’s mind as one entity- “Kotak ”- which can provide customized and one-stop solution for all their financial services needs. It has an unaided top of mind recall. It intends to stay with the proposition of “Think Investments, Think Kotak”. The positioning you choose for your brand will be influenced by the competitive stance you want to adopt.

Brand Positioning involves identifying and determining points of similarity and difference to ascertain the right brand identity and to create a proper brand image. Brand Positioning is the key of marketing strategy. A strong brand positioning directs marketing strategy by explaining the brand details, the uniqueness of brand and it’s similarity with the competitive brands, as well as the reasons for buying and using that specific brand. Positioning is the base for developing and increasing the required knowledge and perceptions of the customers. It is the single feature that sets your service apart from your competitors. For instance- Kingfisher stands for youth and excitement. It represents brand in full flight.

There are various positioning errors, such as-

  1. Under positioning- This is a scenario in which the customer’s have a blurred and unclear idea of the brand.
  2. Over positioning- This is a scenario in which the customers have too limited a awareness of the brand.
  3. Confused positioning- This is a scenario in which the customers have a confused opinion of the brand.
  4. Double Positioning- This is a scenario in which customers do not accept the claims of a brand.

The 3C’s Model is an industry model, which offers a strategic look at the factors needed for success. It was developed by Japanese organizational theorist Kenichi Ohmae.

The 3C’s model points out that a strategist should focus on three key factors for success. In the construction of a business strategy, three main elements must be taken into account:

  1. The Company
  2. The Customers
  3. The Competitors

Only by integrating these three, a sustained competitive advantage can exist. Ohmae refers to these key factors as the three C’s or strategic triangle.

Customers have wants and needs. The company recognises these and offers a basic product. To cater to their expectations and also to differentiate from competitors, companies try to offer differentiated products. Similarly, competitors attempt to offer differentiated products to generate profits and growth.

There is also a new 3 C’s model emerging which centers on sustainability. This model is:

  1. Capability
  2. Consistency
  3. Cultivation

The idea behind the new 3 C’s model revolves around the concept of shared value to the company, the environment, and the community.

The Customer

Clients are the base of any strategy according to Ohmae. Therefore, the primary goal is supposed to be the interest of the customer and not those of the shareholders for example. In the long run, a company that is genuinely interested in its customers will be interesting for its investors and take care of their interests automatically. Segmentation is helping to understand the customer.

Segmenting by objectives

The differentiation is done in terms of the different ways that various customers use a product. Customer thinking is not one of the prime functions for consideration.

Segmenting by customer coverage

This segmentation normally emerges from a trade-off study of marketing costs versus market coverage. There appears always to be a point of diminishing returns in the cost versus coverage relationship. The corporation’s task is to optimize its range of market coverage, geographically and/ or channel wise.

Segmenting the market once more

In fierce competition, competitors are likely to be dissecting the market in similar ways. Over an extended period of time, the effectiveness of a given initial strategic segmentation will tend to decline. In such situations it is useful to pick a small group of customers and reexamine what it is that they are really looking for.

A market segment change occurs where the market forces are altering the distribution of the user-mix over time by influencing demography, distribution channels, customer size, etc. This kind of change means that the allocation of corporate resources must be shifted and/ or the absolute level of resources committed in the business must be changed.

The Competitors

Competitor based strategies can be constructed by looking at possible sources of differentiation in functions such as: purchasing, design, engineering, sales and servicing. The following aspects show ways in order to achieve this differentiation:

Making it big in the industry

Hito-Kane-Mono

A favorite phrase of Japanese business planners is hito-kane-mono, standing for people, money and things. They believe that streamlined corporate management is achieved when these three critical resources are in balance without surplus or waste. For example: Cash over and beyond what competent people can intelligently expend is wasted. Of the three critical resources, funds should be allocated last. The corporation should firstly allocate management talent, based on the available mono (things): plant, machinery, technology, process know-how and functional strength. Once these hito (people) have developed creative and imaginative ideas to capture the business’s upward potential, the kane (money) should be given to the specific ideas and programs generated by the individual managers.

The Corporation (The industry)

Selectivity and sequencing

The corporation does not have to excel in every function to win. If it can gain a decisive edge in one key function, it will eventually be able to improve its other functions which are now average.

Make or buy

In case of rapidly rising wage costs, it becomes a critical decision for a company to subcontract a major share of its assembly operations. If its competitors are unable to shift production so rapidly to subcontractors and vendors, the resulting difference in cost structure and/ or in the company’s ability to cope with demand fluctuations may have significant strategic implications.

In essence, the company should seek to stay ahead of competition by either outsourcing some of its activities that are quite costly but do not have direct value addition or it should apply backward integration techniques for its core business areas.

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