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The positioning matrix: any marketer has heard of it. It is also sometimes used under the term positioning graph, but that is a matter of the same thing, different name. How do you set up a good matrix and how do you use it in practice?

One of the parts of a good marketing or content strategy is determining your market segments. No company can serve all types of customers, so it helps determine where you stand compared to competitors.

What is positioning?

By position we mean the way consumers define your product or service, based on important characteristics (Kotler, 2019). We also look at where your product occupies compared to those of your competitors.

Our users, customers or stakeholders are inundated with information about products and services. They make most of their decisions unconsciously and therefore do not go through a very conscious assessment process for every decision.

That is why it helps as an organization or brand to divide your products into categories, so that you, as it were, take up a 'position' in the market or arena in which you operate. The perceptions, impressions and feelings that someone experiences at your organization or brand in relation to your competitors determines your positioning.

As an organization or brand, you naturally also want to exercise control over your positioning, so marketers work to claim a place in the minds of their customers, users or stakeholders. They look for a positioning that provides a favorable location and adjust their marketing mix accordingly.

What is a positioning matrix?

A positioning matrix is also called positioning chart or positioning diagram and helps you to determine good positioning.

You place purchasing aspects on the axes. This could, for example, be price (the axis then runs from cheap to expensive) or the degree of health (the axis then runs from healthy to unhealthy).

positioning matrix

It is important that you remain objective, because a common mistake is to control aspects on the axes. Make sure your aspects are broad and can be found in any brand. Choose aspects that matter to your customers or stakeholders and make them rich in contrast. Finally, they must be measurable and objective.

Also read: what is a positioning strategy?

Looking for competitive advantages

If you want to build a lasting relationship with your users, customers or other stakeholders, you must understand their needs better than your competitor does. You simply have to add more value. Please know that you cannot build a positioning on empty promises: if you position yourself on quality, you must also deliver that quality.

To distinguish yourself with your organization or brand, it is important that you know how customers see and experience your organization or brand. You can do this, for example, through customer or user interviews. Then look for points that make your organization or brand unique and choose those for your positioning.

What problem are you solving?

Your customers, users or stakeholders have a problem and you have the solution. If you choose interviews, it is important to bring out the most important pains and gains. What problem are you solving? And does that solve pain points or increase gains?

Some companies do this very well. Take Interpolis for example. They looked at the biggest frustrations of their customers. What is that? Uncertainty. For their customers, nothing is more annoying than confusing policies. If you have damage, you simply want your insurer to pay out. Easy. And so they opted for the positioning 'crystal clear'. Anyone who is an Interpolis customer does not have to navigate complicated policies.

Interpolis may offer the same service as countless others, but they position themselves a little differently.

Questions that the positioning matrix answers

Once you have entered your own brand or organization and those of competitors on the axes, you can find answers to a number of important questions, such as:

  • How do the brands position themselves in the market?
  • Which brands have a similar positioning and are therefore not really unique?
  • In which areas is there room in the market (where is the 'gap')?

Draw up a positioning matrix step by step

But how do you get started with such a positioning matrix?

  1. Determine the market you are analyzing. You can do this in a more traditional way, by organizing the positioning matrix around existing competitors (e.g. clothing stores). It can also be done more abstractly, by framing the matrix based on peripheral or non-traditional competitors (e.g. children's clothing).
  2. Find out which brands meet your criteria based on how you define the market and how relevant they are. Only include brands that are relevant to your customers.
  3. Determine the most meaningful comparative dimensions to include as axes. Consider all dimensions that influence how your customers distinguish and choose brands. Please note: this may differ from what you as a marketer or organization find relevant. For example: a customer might look at proximity to the store, while you only write the price on the axis. So make sure you carefully investigate which factors are important to your customer or data subject.
  4. Measure any brand by its relative position with respect to each dimension. It is best to do this based on current research (not based on your own views!) to be current and avoid prejudice.
  5. Place each brand on the positioning matrix with the corresponding position.

Different positioning strategies

Although there often needs to be one central strategy, it is smart to use several at the same time. This method enables greater market reach and helps to inform your customers through different channels. Here you will find some examples:

  • Product features or benefits for consumers: When using this strategy, the emphasis is on quality. It is about the sustainability of the brand, its reliability or its style. An example of feature positioning is when toothpaste companies call the product "refreshing" or "anti-cavity." A slogan like 'stronger than steel' communicates strength and reliability in a market where similar products exist, but are distinguished by consistency of product features.
  • Pricing: This positioning strategy focuses on the relationship between price and quality and consumer perception of a product's value. When comparing the prices of jackets, a buyer might assume that a jacket priced higher is also of higher quality. Conversely, a lower priced product positions itself for affordability.
  • Use or application: If a brand wants to reach a larger market or changes the purpose of the brand or product, usage-based positioning works well. For example, a company that advertises its hot tea during colder seasons begins advertising an iced version during the summer. In this way, they change the use of their brand to reach a larger market. They alert their users to the other applications. By broadening the applications, they reach a different type of customer.
  • Product Process: This is the case when a brand is associated with a specific user or class of users. You often see influencers here. Basketball players who wear certain sneaker brands are expected to be associated with the brand by consumers. When purchasing that brand, the expectation is that everyone who wears it will become just as athletic.
  • Product class: This is the simultaneous positioning of two related products in the same product class, resulting in a larger customer base. Positioning dried milk as both a breakfast substitute and a protein shake doubles its appeal to two different customer needs.

Choosing a positioning strategy

You've completed your positioning matrix, but what now? Now it's time to transform your findings into a strong positioning.

The most important thing about good positioning is that you are unique. It is difficult to distinguish yourself if, for example, you and your competitor both position themselves as 'reliable'. And what's more, it also shows little creativity.

You must therefore look for unique advantages to build up your position and select the right competitive advantages, ultimately achieving a tight positioning.

Also see: The difference between marketing, PR and communication

Want to get started with your positioning matrix?

Do you also want to get started with drawing up a positioning matrix, but could you use some help? Take Contact contact us, we are happy to help you!


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