The Grayson Report

New Product Positioning Is a Most Important Tool

October 31, 2006

The traditional marketing mix—pricing, advertising, promotion, packaging, distribution, selling, servicing and product—as developed by Neil Borden 60 years ago, did not consider product positioning as one of the key creative tools that the marketing person uses to optimize new product or brand opportunities. But, within the current competitive climate, positioning may, in fact, be the most important differentiating tool under the marketer’s control.

Here are some of the reasons. First, several elements of the mix generally offer little creative leeway to the marketer; namely pricing, distribution, selling and servicing. When it comes to product, so many are similar and virtually all are good—so much so, that readers of this column have oft heard us expound, “the only thing that separates one product or brand from another is image and price.”

Packaging is one of the key differentiating factors, but even that is often limited by the need to fit into a line design or pricing parameters. So then, how do you “create/build” image? With positioning and then advertising/promotion and we don’t mean price-off promotion, nor its ilk, rather think MAC Viva Glam, as one execution of an image-building promotion strategy.

Be Sure to Stand Out

The second is the proliferation of products—brand extensions, line extensions, store brands, no-name brands, internet brands, QVC/HSN brands, whatever. This all adds to a beauty market characterized by mass confusion—in all channels.

We define positioning as “that place in the universe of all products where, by image (psychological), and/or by physical attribute (real), one is able to topographically position a product in the mind of the consumer.” Using this definition, how many products really stand out in your mind?

The chart here provides a roadmap for determining the marketability of a product, based upon its proposed positioning. A good example of brilliant positioning is to focus on Clairol’s Root Touch Up as you go down the center of the chart. (En passant, it was judged to be the best new technical product by 6,000+ members of the technical community who were polled by HBA Global Expo. The actual creators of the product, from the laboratory, were feted at the HBA Awards Dinner this past September. It also received the CEW best new hair product award, earlier in the year.)

Make a Name for Yourself

 Clairol Nice'n Easy Root Touch-up
Another one of our mantras is—you can’t get closer to heaven than by having a name that: one, is news—creates and preempts the category; two, is interruptive; three, is easily understood; four, selects its target market and five, projects or implies the benefit.

Root Touch Up does all five in one fell swoop! That’s why it received a nearly perfect score for “positioning” in TheBrandAudit— 21.60 out of a possible 22.50!

The chart  shows a dramatic score of 85.35 out of a possible 100! The weaker marketing categories were Competition (a real fact of life) and Marketing Potential, (after all, it’s not a perfect world). These were more than compensated for by the high drivers of the score—Product and Positioning. Consider the power of that name, Root Touch Up. Can you ask for anything more?

As detailed in the September column, TheBrandAudit is a system to determine the success-potential of new product(s), prior to the launch. Evaluation is based upon the five key marketing components: Product, Position, Competition, Consumer Appeal and Marketing Potential.

In the real world, success will be determined by consumers’ perceived value for the benefit. For Root Touch Up, while the name and positioning are brilliant, if the price of the touch up product is virtually the same as the regular product, (sometimes more, depending upon the store), why does she need the touch up product? Once she has the application tool, the consumer will figure out (those girls are clever) that she need only buy the regular product and use it as the touch up, (if she wasn’t already doing that). After all, is the 10-minute benefit worth it? And, she’d be absolutely sure of the color results. So, what must Clairol do to maximize the brand’s potential? Here are some thoughts:
    • Price it under the regular product;
    • Provide two or more touch ups in one package; and
    • Convince consumers that there is a hair benefit, texture or beauty look (without debasing its basic hair color) for a touch up, rather than going all the way. If a brand doesn’t achieve and/or sustain its potential, fix it fast. To learn more about the marketing audit, visit

 Glad We Didn’t Do This

 RéVive: Too many confusing elements.
The RéVive ad has lots of elements, mostly confusing. The colonial tin soldiers marching alongside the package are supposed to support the headline, “Call in the Youth Recruits.” And then the copy goes on to explain that with RéVive in your arsenal the battle for beautiful skin just got easier. Where-oh-where is anything that would lead us to believe that this is true? Besides, we don’t like to get invited into a battle, rather we’d just like to win it!
Where-oh-where is the believability? Please note that they are celebrating 10 years!



Glad We Didn’t Do This

 Sephora has yet to find its niche in advertising.
Sephora, The Beauty Authority. The copy reads, “the popular click—beauty’s gold standard,” A unique selling proposition? A compelling story? A motivating feature? We just don’t get it. Sephora just hasn’t found its positioning groove in advertising. Can you imagine how much more powerful they would get if...?





Glad We Didn’t Do This

Hey, Sephora isn’t alone. “Ulta, your beauty destination.” “Old school” marketers used to say that the graphic and copy should work together to reach out, grab you by the throat, and pull you into the ad. Maybe the “new school” knows something we don’t. Feel free to tell us.
 Ulta's graphics fail to  draw consumers into the ad.







Wish We Had Done This

What’s this? Juicy Couture blatantly dares us to SMELL ME! It’s not often that you find an actual product benefit in fragrance
 Juicy Couture goes back to the basics and touts product.

Traditional fragrance advertising skips over the actual smell and just implies the romantic or sexual possibilities or gives you a shot of reference-group-reach with a celeb. Hmmm, something to think about. Maybe the juice counts. What a concept!






Wish We Had Done This


 Who knew skin care could be this sexy?
Charles Revson coined, “Hope in a bottle” and it looks like Nivea has changed it to “Sex in a bottle.” And it sums it all up with “NIVEA, Smooth Sensation. Touch and Be Touched.” Now that’s a concept for a body lotion.

To all our friends, the next column is January 2007. So, a very early happy holiday season, one that’s great for you and your business. And, an even better New Year.
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