Points of Difference: Are they compelling?
Strong brands meet what buyers want and perform the way they need to perform. A sound positioning strategy requires the specification not only of the category in which a brand holds membership, but also how a brand dominates other members of its category. A starting point in developing a point of difference is to examine product features broadly construed to include the various elements of the marketing mix that might distinguish a brand from its competitors.
One of these points is benefit selection. This is to identify a point that is a potential benefit to the consumer but at the same time serves as a points or points of difference. In this respect it is important to identify with consumer beliefs and wants. Therefore, the question would be: What are consumers’ beliefs about the category that might be used to promote a benefit? The answer for our product is that it contains no preservatives. In is a fact that some percentage of the population is allergic to food preservatives. Also, consumers would prefer a product that is natural and contains no added preservatives over one that is loaded with preservatives. This then support and trumpets or reflects an accepted consumer belief that food preservatives are not a good thing in your diet. This allows the brand to dominate competitors based this factor alone.
The strongest positions are ones in which a brand has a clear point of difference on a benefit that prompts the category use over its competitor. This is a factor of product substitution. Large brands such as Tide detergent generally are promoted using these benefits. The use of Tide detergent stresses superior cleaning power. It this respect Paula’s Pierogies are superior to other brands because they do not contain preservatives.
Although this company is small it has attempt and succeeded in establishing a niche as their point of difference. This is achieved by using the category benefit to establish category membership and by selecting some benefit other than the focal one for the category to establish brand dominance.
In the same respect, we have limited the number of benefits that are offered in order not to confuse the consumer or create a brand that would seem to be “too good to be true” (rewrite this sentence). It is important to convey a benefit in a way that demonstrates not only the benefit itself but also provides consumers a reason to believe the benefit they are getting. This reason to believe can also take the form of a physical characteristic or quality. Thus, the amount of information required to convince people of the benefit generally precludes identifying more than a single benefit. Other benefits can be provided in different venues or through the retail sales of supermarkets, or other distributors.
In selecting such a benefit to consumers it must also be assessed whether the benefit motivates consumption or whether it is just a normative benefit. Where a normative benefit is one that customers say are important because of societal standards rather than because these benefits actually influence consumer behavior. Consumers rate safety and nutrition highly because it would be inappropriate in their roles as parents, homemakers, or responsible adults to do so otherwise. It is important to note that when nutrition, safety and the like are normative features, they may not be powerful points of difference. It may be difficult to detect whether a feature is normative factor or a determinant of consumer behavior. It is clear that for some segment, safety might be a critical factor in the choice of a product such as a person with substantial allergies to food preservatives. In order to test this consumers should be asked to evaluate a benefit’s importance in purchasing this product. If the response is different from different groups it may be reasoned that that something other than a normative factor is operating. Also, it may be that one group is more normative than another.
However, in our own assessment of the product and the sale based on its benefit it is clear that the product is being sold based on the consumers benefit that it does not contain any preservatives. This has proven to be an important point of difference in the product from what is available to the consumer.