Consumers perceive the world differently now than they did in early 2020. If your product positioning strategy does not take the new normal into account, your business may be behind.
At the beginning of the pandemic, experts predicted what the “new normal” would look like. Now that the “new normal” has arrived, business owners have a better understanding of which direction to take next, especially when it comes to developing successful updated product positioning strategies.
Product positioning is a proven marketing technique aimed at finding the right “fit” for any product in the marketplace. With a pragmatic approach, product positioning allows you to put your product in front of specific customers at the right time and in the right way. It allows you to create buzz and succeed.
Even if you developed a strong product positioning strategy in 2019 or early 2020, you should reconsider how well it fits the changes that have occurred over the past year. For example, your customers have different needs than before COVID. Consequently, their changed needs should underlie every aspect of your revised product positioning.
What does the new norm look like for consumers?
How have consumers’ needs and habits changed since the pandemic began? The answers to this question can help you form a more effective product positioning strategy. According to several reports, the main changes in consumer behavior are as follows:
1. Consumers are becoming more purchase conscious.
The era of over-consumption seems to be over. According to McKinsey & Company, based on current and historical data, consumers are reducing discretionary spending. Moreover, they are becoming more sensitive to everything from price to overall consumption. This may make them more discerning and less likely to make impulse purchases.
2. Consumers embrace brand agnosticism.
In the early months of store closures, the global supply chain failed. Consumers couldn’t find the products they used to buy, forcing them to try competing brands. A 2020 McKinsey study of consumers in 45 countries found that people around the world tried a new shopping habit or brand last year, and in the U.S. the rate was 73%. Now that consumers have gotten rid of the need for brand loyalty, they may be more open to being seduced.
3. Consumers are making the Internet their primary shopping destination.
Consumers are quickly turning to online media, to the point where they are buying first- and non-essential items from the comfort of their homes. Numerator’s COVID Sentiment Surveys, which conducted 18 surveys between March 2020 and January 2021 with about 1,000 consumers in each survey, found that 87% of consumers placed online orders with delivery between March and December 2020.
These changes in consumer habits can be seen as opportunities, as long as you are willing to be creative in developing high-level and subtle product positioning strategies.
3 product positioning tips to attract a post-pandemic audience
To encourage discerning, curious and digitally savvy consumers to try your products, consider three key product positioning techniques.
1. Position your product in the digital landscape.
Consumers use devices to search, research and purchase products through a multitude of digital platforms, including the Internet, mobile apps and text messaging. In addition, they are delving deeper and checking brand pages on social media and even corporate executives’ LinkedIn profiles. They want to be sure they’re making the right choices, and they can use a multi-channel approach to gather information.
Even if you developed a strong product positioning strategy in 2019 or early 2020, you should reassess whether it has withstood the changes of the past year.
Product positioning marketing can include a mix of virtual advertising, email marketing, push notifications and text messaging (or in-app messaging) to maximize your digital presence. This will help you meet consumers where they are most likely to find your brand – from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
2. Reconsider your product differentiators.
Consumers are likely to want to know more about the products they buy in order to assess whether they fit the company they patronize. For example, many consumers care about topics such as sustainability or local manufacturing. Before they buy a product, they may do social listening and online research, looking for companies whose policies and values align with their preferences.
This trend can create an opportunity for a new approach to product positioning. To leverage your product’s differentiating factors, first identify them. Then convey them in your product positioning content to create a stronger message. For example, perhaps you’ve retooled your manufacturing facilities to provide a safer environment for employees during a pandemic. This act of corporate responsibility is a differentiator you’d like to emphasize to a COVID-sensitive audience.
3. Redesign your packaging and images.
Redesigning your product positioning should include packaging and other visuals as they need to match the modern buyer mentality. You may have noticed that many companies have updated their packaging and advertising images to include photos of consumers wearing masks. This is done on purpose to position the product as modern, relevant and safe.
You don’t have to replace all the old images, but make sure you’re sending the right product positioning message to a changed audience. Otherwise, you may inadvertently “date” your product or emotionally separate yourself from consumers. When choosing images, appeal to updated target marketing personas.
Be the partner consumers need
Consumers have changed because of the pandemic. However, they are still interested in buying products. They just need to feel comfortable with their choices.
Consider taking the time to update your product positioning strategy based on what you know about current consumer behavior and needs. You may be able to make stronger connections with your core audience and set your business up to meet profit goals.