Markets, by their very definition, are dynamic – always stirring and progressing. Many companies spend a lot of time, focus, and energy, adequately positioning their brand in the existing market circomestances. And that alone is hard to achieve. But what many businesses fail to do is reassess their brand positioning down the road.
The world changes. Globalization is erasing cultural differences and makes customers from different market and nations share the same appeal for brands. The digital aspect of branding reached its peak, saturation even, leading to a new-found demand for combining physical and digital experience. As we approach a new decade, it is time to see what concepts will have a significant impact on brand positioning strategies.
Market segmentation, a process of dividing a market of potential customers into groups or segments, based on different characteristics, will radically change in the next decade. Some of those segment characteristics (such as similar needs, interests, and locations) will no longer matter, while others will gain importance.
Globalization is an ongoing process in which regional societies, economies, and cultures are becoming more integrated through social, economic, technological, and other exchanges. Its major consequence is the more culturally diversified audience. This means that characteristics like nationality, religion, age, and particularly location will lose their value in brand positioning strategies.
Rather, the focus will be on purchasing data from “data brokers.” In other words, using catalogs of consumer habits (such as what they follow on social media and search on Google) to market similar products and services.
In the next decade, brand positioning will no longer have to focus on a particular market segment as the audience becomes more culturally diversified and present on a global scale.
Post-Digital and Phigital
The next decade will be considered as a “post-digital” one. In other words, digital will no longer be the sole way to reach people. That was the big talk of strategist for most of the 2010s. However, now, people are living everywhere. And that means thinking digital ads will be the answer is not thinking long and hard enough about behavior.
We all live online, but in the physical world as well. Sharing stories won’t be limited to what one shares on social media platforms. Brands who can be more creative and holistic in their approach and tie the matrix together have a better chance of reaching people and retaining them – in other words, brands which can be phigital. Find out here about a holistic approach to brand positioning.
The concept of phigital revolves around merging the digital and physical experience for consumers. It is the practice of integrating the physical world with the experience in the digital one or enhancing offline experiences with the help of online engagement to give users a personalized, seamless journey.
For example, creating a sign, having a specific product or service, or even highlighting your physical location and asking onlookers to take a selfie with it. Then, encouraging them to post it on social media and tag your brand using a specific hashtag. Formulating a phigital experience for your target audience can create a digital transformation that builds enjoyable, satisfying, and real-time interactivity.
Product-centric vs. brand-centric positioning
In the next decade, one of the major questions for a brand positioning strategy will be whether to focus on a particular product and its benefits or on a brand as a whole. For instance, Apple produces a variety of products – smartphones, computers, health watches, and more. And yet, it is the brand itself that receives the most branding efforts, while groups of products come as second.
Apple’s branding position is all about the experience, going after the emotional branding – something which is felt in the heart and the mind of the consumer. Its three core beliefs, innovation, design, and imagination, are strongly reflected and promoted through their products, ads, and customer experiences. This allowed the company to position itself as a luxury brand that carries a huge emotional connection and loyalty among its customers.
On the other hand, Coca-Cola’s branding position grew around a single product. When the company faced a decision whether to keep the same positioning or adapt according to 200 countries where the brand sells its products, its approach was to “think globally, act locally.”
Coca-Cola was thus willing to keep the same core product – which is coke – but adapts the offer to local needs. The business used strategic positioning in order to have the same image all around the world, which was a success because it is perceived today as a part of daily life everywhere.
Purpose as a major part of positioning
Purpose, as the reason for being, was over the past few years on the agenda of most marketing departments as companies searched to ‘do well by doing good.’ But this year marked the beginning of a backlash. Not about doing good necessarily, but around the misappropriation of the concept ‘purpose’ when it actually boils down to positioning.
In the next decade, brands will have to move away from doing the purpose for purpose’s sake (especially when it is simply an added positioning element) and rather focus on brand differentiation though better-defined positioning.
Innovative brands are starting to realize that purpose doesn’t have to be grand or about pushing through a big societal change. A brand’s purpose should be rooted in the brand itself, which makes it different from competitors, and what it stands for.
Baileys is a typical example. Through lines such as “Be a Woman for Life” and “Make Women Shine,” the brand wanted to empower women, yet it was not a message female consumers resonated with or one they associated with the company. The brand's insight suggested women actually want Baileys to be about enjoying life, so its purpose is now helping consumers in “The Pursuit of Pleasure.”
For a purpose to work, there must be a clear boundary between a brand, its reason for existence, and how that is conveyed to the audience.
Brands who compose, create and coach will lead the way
As automation continues to pick up speed, there is less of a need to speak to anyone at a brand or rely on any of their content or owned data or knowledge to make a decision. As a matter of fact, almost everything will be in the hands of the consumer. But there is a way for brands to break through this and stand as a single entity with their customers.
Using the example of fashion retailers, rather than the brand saying “We designed these clothes for you to consume,” the new approach is “We created tools for you to design your own fashions.” Instead of messages like “We’ve composed the ad for you to aspire to,” the new compose attitude will be “We’ve partnered with our customer on our communications.” And rather than saying, “We know best since we’re the brand,” the new coaching attitude will be “We are always learning something new based on the needs of our customers.”
p style="font-weight: 400;">Markets change. The same is true for brand positioning. New competition arrives. Companies develop new products, features, and benefits regularly. Just maintaining your positioning doesn’t necessarily ensure your brand will stay relevant in the future.