A positioning strategy is the action plan that a business or product undergoes to achieve market position. With positioning strategy, first consider your goal. How do you want to position your company, brand, or product? Do you want to give a perception of quality? Do you want to identify with your market? What areas do you want to be outstanding in? Where do you want to rank? Be placed? What products do you want to be compared to?
Sometimes the best positioning strategies are not obvious. Here are three examples of unlikely positioning strategies we tried – and succeeded with – building the Barefoot Wine brand:
- Barefoot Wine positioned itself not only to identify with our consumers, but also to be actively involved in their goals and challenges. Rather than advertising, we relied entirely on word-of-mouth and worthy-cause marketing through the members of those organizations we supported. We found out what was important to our customers. It included everything from education for their kids and clean beaches, to — especially for the LGBT community — civil rights and fighting AIDS. Thus, we concentrated on supporting those causes. In this way, we positioned ourselves as the insiders, the underground, the best-kept-secret. People felt it was pretty cool that Barefoot Wine supported these various causes, which gave our brand cache.
- Barefoot Wine went out on a limb. We supported marginalized groups and causes before they were main stream, and some that, at first, did not seem to be in our best interest. We supported Keep Lake Tahoe Blue, for example, which the casinos, realtors, and developers initially fought, until they finally realized that tourists came to Lake Tahoe for the lake. But we positioned ourselves to identify with our consumers’ community, and not only identify with them, but to be actively involved in their goals and challenges. And we got them as loyal customers, which gave us a big head start.
- Barefoot Wine created its own category. We wanted to position Barefoot Wine as a personal house wine and a staple – a buyer’s everyday drinking wine. So first of all, we needed to create the category of personal house wine. Up until then, only restaurants and hotels had house wines. We wanted to be the consumer’s mid-week wine — not the Saturday night wine, because they are six other days in a week. We wanted to position our wine to be friendly, approachable, and unsnobby, as the People’s Wine, and we did that with our fun image and colorful packaging. That was our positioning strategy. It seemed unlikely at first, but ultimately, it became extremely successful.
Other good examples of positioning strategy abound. Skyy Vodka positions their brand as seductive. Goodyear Tires’ positioning strategy includes the blimp; they position themselves as the all-American brand while Michelin Tires positions itself as everything to do with the road. Timex is the inexpensive brand that keeps on ticking. The Energizer’s bunny continues indefinitely, and so on. In my experience, your positioning strategy can be anything that fits well with your brand and your goals. Here you have my permission to get very creative.
Of course, there’s much more that could be said on this subject. What’s been your experience? Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, the largest selling wine brand in the nation, invites you to join the discussion on Positioning Strategy with your comments, thoughts, and opinions below.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders