The segment chosen in market segmentation is to be targeted for customer acquisition and retention. For this to be successful, customers have to be persuaded that the service offer is unique in features, value and benefits. The offer, thus, has to be positioned in their minds to enable them to recognize-the offer as distinct from the crowd and to be persuaded that the offer is the best offer for them. Positioning is a battle for the consumer’s mindshare. “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”, said \Winston Churchill.
Four Principles of Positioning:
- A service firm must position itself in the target segment’s mind.
- The position should be singular, with one simple’ consistent message’
- The position must set the service firm and the service product apart.
- A service firm cannot be all things to all people-, should focus on certain segments’
Process of Market Positioning
Stage 1: Identity Key Product Characteristics
The service marketer should make efforts to find out which of the offer’s features and characteristics do consumers desire, and value most, when they make a decision to buy. Some kind of weighting should be put on these features. The features could be both tangible (colour, size, design) and intangible (guarantees, reputation, experience, quality, etc’).
Stage 2: Draw a Perceptual Map
With the weights of different features, a perceptual map is drawn. This is an extremely useful tool to visually depict what the consumers think of available brands -with their features. A perceptual map consists of a grid on two axes, with product attributes on each of them. Thus, brands are spread over the grid, giving indication what the marker perceives of the brands vis-a-vis others. Clusters of brands in one area or brand standing alone in another area will give the service marketer an indication of the intensity of competition as well as the distinctiveness or lack of it of the brands. The marketer also gets glimpses of gaps in the market, for exploitation.
Stage 3: Decide on a Competitive Strategy
After the perceptual map has been drawn, the decision to be taken is either of the two:
- To compete head-on, or
- Get away from the competition
Different players take different positions in the grid. Some are competing head-on while others prefer to be alone. A new entrant decides on the segment to compete in and if there is a cluster’ as with Shopper’s Stop, Cross roads/P i ram yd, Globus and West Side, then they have to compete head-on. The other choice could be the lower quadrants where there is an absence of competition.
Stage 4: Design Product Attributes and Associated Imagery
To help the targeted customer identify the services and their benefits, the marketer designs service product features and associated images are designed. They will include brand name, slogan, advertising themes, price levels, and distribution outlets. Thus with marketing mixes, the service marketer is able to position his offer in the minds of the consumer.
Stage 5: Sustain a Competitive Advantage
A service marketer gets a decisive competitive advantage if he is able to set his offer apart from those of the rest of the competition – in the eyes of the target customer. Success will breed imitators, and the service marketer will then have to spend time and resources toward them off’ But this competitive advantage has to be sustained, and can only be done by keeping in touch with the customer and knowing his needs.
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