Competitive Positioning: The Definitive Guide (Top Brand Examples)

The term “Competitive positioning” sounds like an intimidating business term to describe a complex topic. 
 
To add to the apparent complexity, you’ll often hear the term used interchangeably with any number of equally complex sounding terms such as “positioning strategy”“differentiation strategy” or “competitive differentiation”

Semantics aside, there are all more or less the same topic which is not that complicated.  
 
Once you understand it you can define a positioning strategy for your brand, to give it a competitive edge and maneuver it into a position of strength.    

In this article, you’ll learn the simplicity of competitive positioning and a process to define an edge for your brands. 
 

The term “Competitive positioning” sounds like an intimidating business term to describe a complex topic. 
 
To add to the apparent complexity, you’ll often hear the term used interchangeably with any number of equally complex sounding terms such as “positioning strategy”“differentiation strategy” or “competitive differentiation”

Semantics aside, there are all more or less the same topic which is not that complicated.  
 
Once you understand it you can define a positioning strategy for your brand, to give it a competitive edge and maneuver it into a position of strength.    

In this article, you’ll learn the simplicity of competitive positioning and a process to define an edge for your brands. 

What Is Competitive Positioning? (Examples & Types)

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What Is Competitive Positioning?

Competitive positioning, more often than not, is overlooked or avoided by many entrepreneurs, business leaders and even professional brand builders.

It’s the cornerstone of brand strategy though the strategy of the brand is still a new concept to some, with many business leaders opting for the easy (and cost-effective route) which is to develop a visual brand without considering a strategy. 

 But as is often the case, there are consequences to taking shortcuts and  

a brand without a competitive positioning strategy is a brand without a compelling reason to choose it. 

Competitive Positioning Definition

In his time, Philip Kotler was defined as the Father Of Modern Marketing. 

 He defines Competitive positioning as:  

The act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market. 

 If we were to define it in more conversational language, your competitive position is:

The defining reason customers choose a brand over it’s competitors 

 So as you can see all of these terms are not really that complicated at all. 

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Why Is Competitive Positioning Important?

Well, the reality is, when consumers choose one brand over another, there are defining factors in their decision-making process. 

One of the biggest mistakes of business owners and brand builders around the world make, is assuming that their visual brand is enough to appeal to their audience and quite simply it’s not.

Consumers make buying decisions everyday. Many of these decisions are made subconsciously, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason behind the decision.

Subconscious or not, for every buying decision, there is a defining reason for the purchase.

Brands that overlook competitive positioning, overlook the requirement to provide the audience with that compelling reason

They assume the visual brand will be enough to attract or that their audience will come up with their own compelling reason… But they won’t. 

If you don’t give your audience a compelling reason, they’ll find a brand that will. 

Decision-Making Factors Of Buying Decisions

The most important decision-making factors for customers within a given market segment is largely dependant on the people in that segment and the outcome they’re after.

For example, within the car market, a growing family with a limited budget is a market segment that needs to be served.  

Examples of their most important decision-making factors could include. 

Price 

Size / Space 

Fuel Economy 

Reliability 

 The brands operating in this space need to define the decision-making factors they want to be best known for, then communicate those factors consistently until they build that reputation. 

Competitive Positioning vs Competitor Positioning

Competitive and competitor positioning are often confused. 

Competitive positioning relates to the competitive edge or your brand while competitor positioning relates to the competitive edge of the competition. 

Before defining your competitive position in the market, it’s important that you understand who else is playing in the market and what their position is. 

For example, if CAR BRAND A has developed a reputation as the most economical in a category, then CAR BRAND B, rather than competing on that decision-making factor, might position themselves as the most reliable. 

An effective competitive positioning strategy considers the competitive landscape. 

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What Is A Positioning Map?

A positioning map which is also known as a   

Perceptual Map 

Positioning Matrix 

Perceptual Matrix 

is a positioning tool that allows brand strategists to compare decision-making factors and visualise the competitive landscape. 

The comparison allows for two decision-making variables to be considered and the brands within the category plotted by their reputation based on the criteria. 

For example, to visualise the economy family car market we might use the positional map consider the “Fuel Economy” and “Reliability” variables, then plot the brands on the map based on their reputation in the market.

The perceptual map is a tool that’s been around for decades and although it’s not an exact science, 

it’s a great way to visualise the market and find opportunities competitive positional opportunities.

 

Competitive Positioning Examples & Types

There are many different approaches a brand can use to position themselves in the market and provide their audience with a compelling reason.

The key is in understanding the buying decision factors your audience places a high value on and creating a perfect combination to appeal.

Here are some examples of competitive positioning approaches. 

Create A Competitive Positioning Strategy (Process Framework)

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