Is positioning still relevant today? Part three

Here are some thought starters related to my belief that positioning is generally a pointless exercise:

According to Industry Week magazine, 70% of today’s manufactured goods will be obsolete in six years. There are estimated to be more than 30,000 new product introductions in the US alone every year, just in the packaged goods market. According to AC Nielsen, up to 90% of products fail. This means that as many as 27,000 of those new products will fail.

Despite approximately US$1.5 trillion spent on marketing annually and over US$500 million spent on advertising alone in the US, the annual US based “Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey 2007”, found that unaided, 77% of respondents could not name one of the top 50 new products of 2007, even if it was a strong well recognised brand.

The development of a positioning strategy takes time and the communication of that ‘position’ will be the responsibility of an advertising agency and that agency will, generally speaking use mass media to communicate the position.

With such short life times and high failure rates, isn’t it time companies reviewed the tools/tactics/strategies/channels etc that they are using to build brands? Don’t they owe it to their shareholders, investors, customers, the environment to do something about this?

What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Is positioning still relevant today? Part three

  1. Objectively though, all I see is just a whole lot of hate for the concept of positioning and lots of suspect anecdotal evidence about how it’s the cause of failure for so many brands out there. It seems to me that all this hoopla is just an attempt to different your own position from the rest of the other “agencies” out there and so that like-minded marketers will hire you. Make everyone else look bad enough, you might look like the hero, eh?

    I agree with the other lady, it just seems that the “evidence” presented points to the fact that those brands may have made the wrong marketing decisions or they have poor agencies, nothing that states that positioning is inherently wrong. By your own statistics, 10% of these brands would go on to succeed and perhaps do so exceedingly well. Plus the fact that there are plenty of case studies out there for positioning. Even current successful brands, not just old dead ones.

    If people would to believe and take seriously your alternative point of view, perhaps you can reduce the amount of hate mail for the concept of positioning and start showing actual case studies and studies that proof that your new way would work. And with such a strong statement made against positioning, I half expect your alternative to ensure 90% of the new products that use your methods to succeed. Anything less, well….. doesn’t look good.

    So far, I have not seen any. So far, it just feels like a lot of complaining. So far, it’s just your sales pitch.


  2. Dickson, thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment. I value your feedback.
    1) I don’t hate positioning and to say I hate positioning is a ridiculous thing to say. Come to think of it, I don’t hate anything. But do I think positioning is an outdated concept that has no place in the business of building brands? Absolutely.
    2) Define anecdotal. If it comes from a written report by a respected institution is it anecdotal? If not then the evidence is not anecdotal.
    3) I would have a much easier time selling branding to companies by telling them they should create a position and sell it via traditional media and make more money doing so than I do now by asking people to take a step back and look at the historical effectiveness of positioning and studying the alternatives.
    4) The position is created by the company and then marketed. Your saying the position was right but the marketing was wrong. Who manages/is responsible for the marketing? Don’t tell me the agency. And after so many years, if positions are created and yet not marketed effectively, then the model is flawed.

    I’m saying that creating a position and then communicating it to the public via mass media is enormously wasteful and inneffective and relevant to an era that no longer exists. In todays business environment, with so much competition, many of which offer similar products (we all know many printers are made in the same factory and then, depending on the brand, will go into different boxes) and better informed consumers, trying to differentiate via a positioning strategy something that is the same is plain dumb.

    Of course there are plenty of case studies out there for successful positioning. I don’t deny that.

    There are case study examples of projects we have worked on throughout this blog. We’ve also successfully applied our principles to other companies and, with profitability not reach or awareness as the main metric, I’d say we have a 100% success rate.


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