What is repositioning in marketing?

What is repositioning?

Positioning is the process of creating the right place or position for your product in the mind of your target customers. It helps identify the distinctive position that your product will occupy.

Effective positioning helps find success faster. While positioning is very important for your brand/product to be successful, it is also important to revisit your positioning strategy from time to time.

This has become all the more essential with rising competition and the fast-changing market dynamics.

Across the various industry sectors, companies are repositioning their products as a response to changing competitive environment and market situation.

This is usually necessary so that your product can compete more effectively.

Repositioning is the process of changing the target market’s perception of an existing product or positioning the same product before a new target market. It will allow your product to compete against other offerings more effectively or attract new customers from the other target segments.

There are several situations when repositioning might be a good idea.

For example, your target market is shrinking or sales have declined due to changing preferences or slowing demand, or you want to add a new innovation to the product. In any of these cases, you might consider repositioning your product. If you see there is an opportunity to improve the demand for a product, repositioning might be the right step.

Some of the most critical factors that might require a product, service or brand to be repositioned are listed below:

In which situations might brands consider repositioning?

Increased Competition:

Competition is among the leading causes that products/brands might need to be repositioned. Suppose new competitors have entered the market and are targeting the same audience.

In another case, some of your competitors have joined forces against your brand to improve their market share. Competitors might also start pricing their products more competitively to snatch market share.

Apart from that, an innovation introduced by one of the rivals that threatens to erode your market share or even make your product obsolete might require you to reposition your product/brand.

In any of these cases, repositioning your product/brand might be a good idea to retain market share and position. When new competitors enter the market with new products and competitive pressure grows, companies consider repositioning to grow the appeal of their product/brand against the rivals.

If a rival introduces an innovation and your market share gets hurt, you too would like to improve and reposition your product in response. A large number of companies resort to repositioning to manage the competitive pressure.

Changing market or industry environment:

Changing market and industry environment may also sometimes necessitate a repositioning. Changes in the economic environment of a market may also require repositioning the product there.

Consumer confidence is an important factor that affects your business strategy and sometimes a decline in consumer confidence caused by economic factors may require you to reposition your product/brand. Many times, changes in the political environment of a market may also require a business to reposition their product/brand.

The pandemic caused a recession like situation in 2020 due to which many brands were forced to consider repositioning their products.  It led to reduced employment and a decline in consumer confidence also.

In such an uncertain climate many brands considered repositioning their products. Sometimes political changes and restrained relationships between two nations might also require brands to reconsider their positioning strategy.

Changing consumer trends :

Changing demographic and consumer trends are also important reason that companies might need to reposition their brand/product.  Marketers need to watch for changes in tastes and preferences of consumers.

Apart from it, how consumer behavior and attitudes towards things change may also need changes in your positioning strategy.  For example, technology has introduced a major change in how consumers access products and services or how they interact with brands worldwide.

The use of technology over the last few decades has grown a lot due to technological advancements and the rise of social media. Customers now use technology to learn about brands, to interact with them and to make purchases. Digital technology is now an integral part of their lives. As a result, several companies have focused on adopting highly digitalized business models and serve their customers using mainly digital channels.

Apart from it demographic changes like the growing number of millennials and Gen Z in the target market of a company might also necessitate a repositioning to connect better with the young customers.

While the changes in the composition of the target market may also require businesses to reposition their brands, companies would also need to reposition as new target markets emerge for their products and brand.

Changes in the organization’s internal environment :

Repositioning may also become necessary due to several types of internal changes. For example, when a business adopts a new structure or operating model, it might need to consider repositioning a product/brand.

In other cases, when leadership or the core business strategy of a company changes, then also the business may consider repositioning.

For example, a company acquires a new business or technology, in that case too it may like to reposition itself to increase its appeal among the target market.

In another case, if a brand has developed a new innovation that is meant to offer a strong new competitive advantage or is a strong differentiator, in that case too, the brand might consider repositioning its product.

Thus, there can be several factors in the internal environment that might result in repositioning.

What is the repositioning process?

In general terms, the repositioning process is very similar to the original positioning process but starts at a very different point.

The initial positioning process was focused on a new product that was not present in the market previously.

On the other hand, in the case of repositioning, the product is already there, but the marketer is only considering altering its position and market perception in a manner that improves its competitiveness.

Sometimes, the company might consider making changes to the product itself like improving its quality or changing its price before repositioning the product. However, this is not always the case.

Often repositioning only involves changes in market communication and messages.

The company might change its promotional approach to marketing the product.

Several times companies have launched elaborate marketing campaigns with the intention of repositioning a product or brand. In most cases, there are very small changes made to the original product. The changes are only in terms of marketing approach.

The main intention is to change the perception of the target market towards an existing product. The company tries to reposition the product in a manner that the target market sees the product with a new perspective.

It often tries to change the market perception or product image in a manner that its appeal grows before a broader target segment.

However, before the final repositioning begins, companies and marketers often take time to evaluate the existing position of a product/service.

This is an essential step since companies need to know what is right or wrong with the current positioning strategy.

In this way, they also generate feedback to generate future positioning strategies.

A product’s market position can change fast and therefore it is essential to keep track and make the necessary changes.

What are the risks and pitfalls associated with repositioning?

While repositioning is commonly used in the industry, it is also important for the marketers to consider the risks and pitfalls of repositioning before beginning.

The first important thing to know about repositioning is that the marketers are starting at a point where the initial market perception of a product has already been established.

Effective repositioning is about creating new but also retaining what is valuable from the old positioning and then shift towards a new perspective.

When marketers are considering repositioning a product, they have the opportunity to make something better than it was before. However, in case it backfires, it can potentially undermine the perceptions of the target market regarding an existing product.

So, before starting repositioning, it is important to consider the past and the future both.

Apart from considering what has happened in the past, it is important to know what lies ahead.

Inevitably, there is going to be some extra load in the case of repositioning.

For example, you might have residual work left from the initial positioning process, otherwise you would not have felt the need to consider repositioning.

There must be memories associated with your product because it has existed in the market for some time.

Your customers must be remembering what the product existed for and how its new image or positioning will fit into their perceptions.

Not just the customers but the other stakeholders too including the employees and shareholders will have their own opinions regarding the new positioning. They will think whether it is effective or ineffective.

Overall, there are going to be several hurdles and pitfalls.

However, at the end if you are successful at reshaping perceptions regarding your product, and end up creating a more powerful brand than the previous one, its rewards can be great.

So, while there are challenges associated with repositioning, there are also great rewards if it is carried out successfully.

These are some common pitfalls associated with repositioning that the marketers must try to avoid.

Risks and Pitfalls of repositioning:

Insufficient market research:

Before starting the repositioning process, marketers must consider carrying out the necessary market research. Repositioning must be informed by the data and insights generated from market research. Apart from that, it is important to carry out market research to know how the target market might react to the repositioning. This will help you prevent the negative impact of adverse reactions on your new positioning and help you shift your positioning in a manner that improves the existing market perceptions regarding the product.

Aiming for too far:

When trying to improve things, marketer may sometimes feel tempted to go absolutely wild and crazy in an effort to change things dramatically. In some cases, it might work but then in other cases, the marketers might end up taking things just too far.  This can lead to the target market no longer believing their claims.

It becomes difficult for the target market to accommodate the new image or positioning and marketing messages with their existing perceptions.  The result will be that your offering loses credibility among your target customers.

Underestimating the value of the core value proposition:

Many times, the marketers try to reposition a brand or product because the target market is just unsure about what it stands for. Several times, the marketers do not need to consider adding new ideas or adding to the meaning.

It might be the time to return to the basics instead of trying new things.  Marketers can get down to the bare essentials including the competitive advantage, the important benefits and the communication. Customers mostly care about the core product and reinforcing the basics can sometimes work effectively.

Overpromising:

Sometimes marketers may also feel tempted to overpromise the benefits and it is especially true when the company is faced with heavy competitive pressure.

They might try to reposition a product and overpromise the benefits that it is ready to deliver.

This can end up being disastrous for the company and the product since it will give rise to expectations among the customers, that may be quite difficult for the company to match.

So, overpromising rarely ends as expected. It is not a good option since if the company fails to match customer expectations, it might end up losing credibility.

Confusing or complex positioning:

Often when marketers are trying to reposition a brand or product, they must do their best to avoid creating any confusion between the new and the old.

If the contradiction between the two is too significant, your repositioning efforts will fail to generate results and might even have the adverse impact.

Repositioning must deliver a clear message. Otherwise, the customers will feel lost between the old and the new and will not know which one to believe.

Overall, marketers need to avoid messing up their market communication by adding confusion when repositioning.

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