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8.6. Product Positioning
Product positioning is about establishing the product in the consumer's perceptual map in a position relative to other products. It is important that the position corresponds with the actual product attributes, or cognitive dissonance (dissatisfaction) will follow. Positioning needs to be carried out with a competitive edge so as not to cannibalise the firm's own products, and also (often) not to meet its competition head-on unless there is a real competitive advantage in the product. There is, of course, a need for market research to monitor the positioning of the product (where is it now, and where it will be following the campaign). Since there is considerable inertia in the minds of the population, it takes some time for a change in positioning to be effected: marketers should therefore be cautious about trying to make rapid or frequent changes in positioning. NPD is extremely risky; eight out of ten new products eventually fail (i.e. do not recover their development costs) and the remaining two out of ten thus have to fund all the others. Great effort has been expended on trying to find better ways of forecasting a product's prospects in the market, with only limited results. First of all, it is necessary to define what a new product is, and the researchers Calentone and Cooper have identified nine categories of new product. The clusters were identified according to whether the product was new to the firm or new to the world, and whether there was a production or marketing synergy with the firm's existing products.
- Cluster 1 : The Better Mousetrap with No Synergy. This is a product that, while being an improvement over existing offerings, does not fit in with the firm's existing product lines.
- Cluster 2 : The innovative Mousetrap that Really Wasn't Better. This might be a product that, while being technically excellent, has no real advantage for the consumer over existing products.
- Cluster 3 : The Close-to-Home Me-Too Product. A copy of a competitor's offering. Not likely to be perceived as new by consumers.
- Cluster 4 : The Innovative High-Tech Product. A truly new-to-the-world product.
- Cluster 5 : The Me-Too Product No Technical/Production Synergy. A copy of a competitor's product, but with no real connection with existing product with lines.
- Cluster 6 : The Old But Simple Money-Saver. Not a new product at all, except to the firm producing it.
- Cluster 7 : The Synergistic Product that was New to the Firm. A product that fits the product line, but is new.
- Cluster 8 : The Innovative Superior Product with No Synergy A product that does not fit the existing product line, but is new.
- Cluster 9 : The Synergistic Close-to-Home Product. A product line extension; perhaps a minor improvement over the firm's existing Synergistic products.
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