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 sense of the direction ahead, 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. When handled pragmatically, product positioning puts your product in front of specific customers in the right way at the right time. This allows you to build buzz and gain traction.
Even if you developed a strong product positioning strategy in 2019 or the beginning of 2020, you should reevaluate whether it has stood up to the changes of the past year. For instance, your customers have different needs than they did pre-COVID. Consequently, their changing needs must inform every aspect of your revised product positioning.
What Does the New Normal Look Like for Consumers?
How have customers altered their spending needs and habits since the pandemic began? Answers to this question may help you shape a more effective product positioning strategy. According to a handful of reports, a few core shifts in consumer behavior include the following:
1. Consumers are becoming more conscientious when buying.
The era of over-consumption seems to have ended. As McKinsey & Company posits from current and historic data, consumers are reducing discretionary spending. In fact, they’re becoming more sensitive to everything from price to overall consumption. This can make them more discerning and less likely to make impulsive buys.
2. Consumers are embracing brand agnosticism.
During the first months of lockdowns, the global supply chain stumbled. Consumers couldn’t find the items they typically bought, which led them to try competing brands. A 2020 McKinsey survey of consumers in 45 countries found that individuals worldwide tried a new shopping habit or brand last year—in the U.S., that figure was 73%. Now that consumers have shaken the need for brand loyalty, they may be more open to being wooed.
3. Consumers are making online their main purchasing venue.
Consumers are rapidly turning to online mediums in new ways, to the point of buying essentials and nonessentials without leaving home. Numerator’s COVID Sentiment Surveys, which conducted 18 surveys between March 2020 and January 2021, with about 1,000 consumers per survey, discovered that 87% of shoppers placed online orders for delivery between March and December 2020.
These changes in consumer habits could be viewed as opportunities as long as you are willing to make creative pivots in your high-level and nuanced product positioning strategies.
3 Product Positioning Tips to Attract Post-Pandemic Audiences
To urge discerning, curious and digitally savvy consumers to try your products, consider adopting three key product positioning techniques.
1. Position your product on the digital landscape.
Consumers rely on devices to find, research and buy items via a multitude of digital platforms including the internet, mobile apps and text. Additionally, they’re digging deeper and checking out brands’ social media pages and even corporate leadership LinkedIn profiles. They want to feel good about the choices they make, and they could be using an omnichannel approach to gather information.
Even if you developed a strong product positioning strategy in 2019 or the beginning of 2020, you should reevaluate whether it has stood up to the changes of the past year.
Your product positioning marketing could then include a mixture of virtual advertising, email marketing, push notifications and opt-in text (or app) messaging to maximize your digital footprint. This will help you meet consumers where they are most likely to find your brand, which is from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
2. Redefine your product differentiators.
Consumers likely want to know more about the items they’re purchasing so they can weigh whether or not they’re aligned with the companies they patronize. For example, many consumers care deeply about topics like sustainability or local sourcing. Before buying a product, they may conduct social listening and online research, seeking companies with policies and values that match their preferences.
This trend may be creating an opportunity for a new approach to product positioning. To leverage your product differentiators, first define them. Then, convey them in your product positioning content to develop stronger messaging. For instance, perhaps you retooled your manufacturing facilities to provide a safer environment for employees during the pandemic. This act of corporate responsibility is a differentiator you would want to highlight to your COVID-sensitized audience.
3. Rework packaging and imagery.
Your product positioning overhaul should include packaging and other visuals because they need to jibe with the current shopper mindset. You have probably noticed that many businesses have updated their packaging and advertising images with pictures of consumers wearing masks. This is by design to position the product as up-to-date, pertinent and safe.
You don’t have to replace all older pictures, but make sure you’re sending the right product positioning message for a changed audience. Otherwise, you might inadvertently be “dating” your product or emotionally disconnecting yourself from consumers. Refer to any refreshed target marketing personas to inform imagery choices.
Being the Partner Consumers Need
Consumers have changed due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, they’re still interested in buying products. They just need to feel comfortable with their choices.
Consider taking the time to bring your product positioning strategy up to date based on what you know about current consumer behaviors and needs. You may be able to make stronger connections with core audiences and set up your business to meet revenue goals.
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