What is product positioning? Definition and examples from real brands

Why settle for broad appeal when you can connect directly with those who matter most? It’s time we take a good hard look at the real-world benefits of clear product positioning and how it can transform your approach to product development, marketing and sales.

The goal of product positioning is to carve out a distinct space for each of your products in the market, and in your very own product lines. Because you’ll want every product to be able to connect with specific audiences. By doing this, you’re making sure you’re not just throwing features into the void –you’re highlighting exactly why each product is perfect for its target customer.

Now this might seem like an unnecessary game of nuance. Because your brand might already have its overarching positioning – so why do individual products need one?

There’s a reason people choose between two seemingly similar options. There’s something small in there that makes them different for them. And with product positioning, you highlight those differences in all the right ways.

Clear product positioning leads to targeted marketing that feels personal and relevant, especially in a crowded marketplace. Your messaging will be so focused, it will increase engagement and drive sales. It’s also a strategic exercise that will help you allocate resources better to your overall marketing plan

A solid product positioning will help you bridge the gap between being a generic option and the go-to choice for your customers. Here’s how to formulate your own, with the help of smart market research.

What is product positioning?

Product positioning defines where your product stands in its market category, highlighting its unique features and how it meets its ideal customers’ needs. By emphasizing the key elements that set it apart, you make sure a specific product is seen as the best solution for your target customers.

For marketers that are new to product positioning, or those who’ve mainly focused on overarching brand positioning, the distinction is crucial.

While brand positioning sets the general direction and values of your company, product positioning drills down to the individual offerings—each product can, and often should, have its unique position.

This doesn’t mean they conflict but that they complement each other within the broader brand strategy.

Every product positioning you craft should not only fit within the broader context of your brand identity and positioning but ideally, it should reinforce and exemplify it.

Think of your brand positioning as the foundation upon which the unique selling propositions of your individual products are built. Each product can highlight a different aspect of your brand’s overarching strategy. It doesn’t cause confusion. When done right, it better illustrates the versatility and depth of what you offer than just choosing one generic positioning.

It’s perfectly acceptable, even strategic, to adopt different positioning strategies for different products. For instance, one product positioning might spotlight your brand’s commitment to innovation, while another underscores your dedication to sustainability. Together, they deliver a comprehensive picture of your brand’s multifaceted approach to meeting consumer needs.

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How to define your product position in the market (with examples)

There are tons of product positioning strategies out there, but the one you choose should be made with your unique value proposition in mind. Here’s how to create an effective product positioning strategy in a few simplified steps.

Start with a deep dive market and competitor research

Don’t just skim the surface. Use tools like Attest to dissect what competitors are doing and why they’re doing it. And ultimately how their activities resonate with your target customers.

Look at their successes and failures through case studies. This isn’t about imitation – it’s about understanding the playing field and launching product positioning strategies that win based on that. Market research templates can streamline this process, offering structured ways to gather and analyze information.

Unpack your product

Really deconstruct what you’re offering.

How does each feature meet a specific want or need? What pain points are you addressing? This step requires you to merge hard data with empathy. Understand not just the practicality of your product, but its emotional resonance too. Tools and insights from Attest’s consumer insights experts can help illuminate these aspects.

Get ready, set, monitor: work with data-driven goals

Set clear, measurable goals for how you want your product to be perceived.

Your goals should be informed by the insights you’ve gathered, assuring they’re rooted in real consumer attitudes and behaviors.

Make sure there is consistency across brand and product

Your product’s positioning should reinforce your overall brand strategy.

Each product can highlight a different facet of your brand’s value proposition but should collectively paint a coherent picture. For example, Apple’s product lineup each emphasizes innovation, design, and user experience, reinforcing the brand’s overarching identity.

Put together a strong product positioning statement

Time to choose the words that crystallize your product’s identity. A solid positioning statement makes it clear who your product is for, what it offers, and why it’s different (and better) than alternatives. It’s not just for external communication – it’s the guiding light for your marketing, development, and sales strategies.

Your product positioning statement should be concise yet descriptive, specific yet broad enough to encompass your product’s essence. Let’s look at examples of both effective and ineffective positioning statements to understand what sets them apart.

Good product positioning statement example:

For environmentally conscious consumers who value sustainable living, our biodegradable cleaning products offer a powerful, eco-friendly cleaning solution without the harsh chemicals found in traditional cleaners. Unlike other eco-cleaning brands, our products use patented technology to achieve superior cleanliness while fully decomposing within 90 days.

What makes this an effective positioning statement:

  • The target audience is clearly defined.
  • It highlights the unique benefit and is specific about what that is.
  • It clearly states how it’s different and better than alternatives, focusing on patented technology and a specific decomposing timeframe.

Bad product positioning statement example:

Our cleaning products are great for anyone interested in cleaning their home, offering an effective solution to make spaces cleaner and more beautiful. With unique ingredients and a fresh scent, our cleaners are a top choice for a spotless home.

What makes this a weak positioning statement

  • Saying “anyone interested in cleaning their home” is too broad and doesn’t effectively target a specific market segment.
  • The statement mentions “unique ingredients and a fresh scent,” which are too generic and could apply to countless cleaning products.
  • It fails to explain how the product stands out from competitors, making it forgettable and blending it into the sea of similar products.

Tips for formulating a strong positioning statement

  • Clearly define who your product is for and why it’s relevant to them.
  • Highlight value and benefits, not features. Focus on how your product improves the customer’s life, not just on its features.
  • Clearly articulate how your product is different from and better than the competition.
  • A positioning statement should be brief yet comprehensive enough to convey your product’s unique value.

Embrace differentiation

Understanding the factors like price, quality, ideal consumer, product type, and competitor offerings are crucial. For each factor, ask, “How can we do this differently?” Not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of knowing how you do things better, and how you can communicate that to your target market.

Maybe your product is the most budget-friendly option, or perhaps it’s the luxury choice. Perhaps its use of cutting-edge technology sets it apart, or its appeal to a niche audience that others overlook.

Let’s break down what elements to consider:

  • Price: if your product is the most cost-effective option, highlight this affordability as a key selling point. If it’s a premium choice, emphasize what it is that justifies the higher price.
  • Quality: it’s an often overused word that has lost its meaning. Whether your product is known for superior durability, innovative features, or simply outperforms competitors in user satisfaction, make sure potential customers know why your offering is considered ‘high quality’.
  • Ideal consumer: identify the specific needs and preferences of your target market. Understanding and speaking directly to this audience’s unique challenges and desires will make your product a no-brainer for them.
  • Product type: consider how your product’s category influences its positioning. Is it a first-of-its-kind innovation or a new take on a familiar item? Highlighting how your product fits into or disrupts existing categories can attract attention and interest.
  • Competitor offerings: analyze what competitors are doing and find your edge and own market positioning. Maybe your product offers a feature that others lack, or it delivers a similar experience in a more user-friendly way. Use this analysis to carve out a niche that your product can own.

Validate with research

Before you go all in, test your positioning.

Use surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews to gauge consumer reactions. This validation step can save you from costly missteps and refine your positioning to resonate even more strongly with your target audience.

Examples of product positioning done well

Let’s look at how two brands, Bugaboo and Manscaped, have effectively positioned their products in the market, and how they used Attest to do this with data-backed confidence.

Bugaboo – nailing positions for high-end strollers

Bugaboo is a brand that positions itself at the premium end of the baby stroller market. Their product design focuses on durability, style, and functionality, appealing to parents looking for high-quality, long-lasting products. With a trio of ‘comfort’ strollers launching simultaneously, Bugaboo used Attest to create clearly differentiated propositions. Bugaboo needed to answer two questions: what is the appeal of the drafted propositions and how could these be optimized further to stand out from one other? You can read the full case study here, but here are the key learnings:

  • Choose your words wisely. Bugaboo ran A/B tests to decide which exact terms they should lean in to, further strengthening their positioning strategies for each stroller.
  • Positioning directly influences price. The research also provided a steer on pricing the three new models, which prompted Bugaboo to do a bigger portfolio study before setting the final RRP. 

Manscaped – shaping a niche in male grooming

Manscaped specializes in male grooming products with a focus on below-the-waist hygiene. Their clear, humorous, and direct marketing has helped them establish a strong position in a niche market. Here’s the full case study, and here are two big aha-moments:

  • Test more than once, and verify your findings. Manscaped is on carrying out further testing to make sure their products are perceived as high quality in the new categories they’ve entered.
  • Benchmark your brand against competitors. Instead of ‘just’ looking at the competition, they tried to find out how their own brand is perceived in new territory.

These examples showcase the importance of understanding your market, identifying unmet needs, and crafting a brand voice and product that speaks directly to your target audience. Whether it’s creating an entirely new category like Manscaped or focusing on quality and emotional connection like Bugaboo, the key to effective product positioning lies in differentiation and aligning your products with your consumer’s values and needs.

Get the competitive advantage with a great product positioning strategy

A well-defined product positioning strategy gives your brand a competitive edge, making your product the obvious choice for your target audience. You’re not ‘just’ trying to be different – you’re trying to be clear about exactly why you have the best solution for your customers’ specific needs. This focus not only attracts the right customers but also builds lasting loyalty.

Want to make sure your product hits the mark right from the start? Start with solid market research. Attest’s guide on market research for new product development offers practical tips and insights to help you nail your product positioning and stand out in the market.

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Nick White

Customer Research Lead 

Nick joined Attest in 2021, with more than 10 years' experience in market research and consumer insights on both agency and brand sides. As part of the Customer Research Team team, Nick takes a hands-on role supporting customers uncover insights and opportunities for growth.

See all articles by Nick