Brands are increasingly challenged with balancing purpose and profit. This is particularly true as the global consumer base becomes more socially conscious and focused on equality, equity, and sustainability. Rethinking brand positioning to reflect recent consumer and market trends is wise, as choices made today will impact a company’s bottom line tomorrow. Let’s see how that looks!
Brand Positioning Yesterday & Today
When we think about brand positioning, the activity from a company standpoint is typically just that – from the company’s standpoint. The focus is on how it wants to be perceived in the market.
But today, companies are recognizing the need to shift that thinking and are basically flipping the script on the concept. They are focusing first on how they are perceived in the market and what target consumers are after. From there, they are exploring how that insight jibes with their mission statement to create a new strategy and brand positioning that meets consumers where they are, while aligning with the market.
It’s a tall order, for sure – and one can sound impossible, but it’s a ‘twofer’ for any company, as consumers want to be heard by big brands, and companies are going to be edged out if they aren’t speaking to these needs. As we can see in the infographic below, as we explore hot topics of the day like inclusion, diversity, equity and sustainability, consumers of every age group expect companies today to listen to them. And the younger the consumer demographic, the more pronounced the expectation.
Ensuring consumers are heard by your brand – and that they know you are hearing them – must be a top priority. AI-powered data anlaytics makes the insight we see above available to brands in real-time, allowing companies to message out in ways that resonate with target audiences. And it also makes it possible to pivot along with consumer and market shifts. We will share how this looks below.
Perfecting Your Brand Positioning Strategy
As the folks at The Brand Positioning Journal point out, the point of it all is to “design the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.” And that distinctive place needs to offer positive associations, as differentiating yourself as the company that is out of touch with Gen Z, for example, is not a good place to be.
“By shaping consumer preferences, brand positioning strategies are directly linked to consumer loyalty, consumer-based brand equity, and the willingness to purchase the brand. Effective brand positioning can be referred as the extent to which a brand is perceived as favorable, different and credible in consumers’ minds.”
Let’s explore a few ways to understand and connect with consumers to create each of those criteria – favorable, different, and credible.
Many companies assume they understand what their consumers want. They’ve been selling XY widget for many years, after all – and sales are steady . . . though not growing. But that’s due to the economy struggling, not because they’ve lost sight of a shifting consumer base, right? Wrong. Very likely wrong.
With hundreds of new entrants in any given category popping up worldwide on a daily basis – and many of them thriving, you can be sure the market is ripe for growth. But that growth is reserved for the companies that are most closely matching evolving consumer needs.
Keeping tabs on trending terms in your category is a quick way to take the temperature of hot topics making the rounds
You can also set alerts to capture when sentiment shifts – yours and that of your your competitors!
And this brings us to another key brand positioning topic – differentiating from competitors.
Differentiating from Competitors
Differentiating from competitors can feel impossible in saturated markets – but it’s honestly always possible with a little digging. Understanding where competitors are doing well, the challenges they’re facing, and what consumers are saying about them is step one – and quick business to sort out in NetBase Quid and Rival IQ! From there, you can compare these data points against your own to see how you measure up with consumers.
And you can further parse the data in a number of ways, creating dashboards that monitor mentions, passion intensity, net sentiment and share of voice (for a big picture overview to have in mind):
And you can also get super granular, capturing key talking points about brands in your category that are happening on relevant SubReddits – a site where consumers offer raw, unfiltered feedback on any number of topics that are relevant to how you connect with them
Understanding specifically what consumers are saying and folding that into your brand messaging helps increase credibility. Influencers add to that credibility quotient significantly.
Enhancing Credibility with Influencers
Partnering with the most popular influencer your brand can afford is not a great tactic. Just because someone has a significant follower count, that does not mean they are influential with every brand’s target consumer. In fact, some may have the exact opposite effect, depending on the category. Identifying and then monitoring relevant influencers that resonate very specifically with your audience is essential. These influencers act as a powerful brand awareness amplification and also as a sounding board for new ideas
What better way to A/B test your new promotion than via two super niche influencers who generate tons of engagement? You’ll immediately know what works, what doesn’t and have an “in” with consumers that feel heard, which – as we know from our infographic at the outset, is top of mind (even if its subconscious desire) for consumers, particularly up and coming generations with buying power of tomorrow.
Marrying Purpose & Profit
It all comes down to positioning your brand for both purpose and profit. And it works. Just ask British retailer, Boots. As Adweek reports, “Since January, British health and beauty retailer Boots has been transitioning its brand purpose from one based on making people feel good to another centered around its role in supporting customers through every stage of life, whether it’s buying a new lipstick for a wedding, picking up emergency tampons or collecting a vital prescription medicine.”
Its CMO, Pete Markey shared that they are seeing returns on every dollar spent “between $7.50 to $25 for our core day-to-day activity, which includes the new purpose-driven work.” And they’ve relied on “continual and extensive market research with customers” to inform these brand positioning efforts
Your brand can emulate their success with your own deep consumer and market understanding. Be sure to reach out for a demo today, and we’ll show you how!