Product Line Positioning by Usage
To minimize cannibalization, marketers adopt different positions for their brands in the same product category. Differentiation by usage occasion is one such strategy.
Union Carbide’s Eveready (dry cell) batteries provide a good example. Till the seventies, over 95% of the total battery demand came from torch and transistor usage. However, since the eighties there has been a boom in the population of cassette tape recorders, two-in-ones, cameras using photoflash guns, battery-operated toys, calculators and other sophisticated equipment like TV remote controls, hearing aids, etc. These equipments are normally high drain devices and they consume more electrical energy per unit of time compared equipments are high value products, the need is more pronounced for a battery which is ‘safe’, i.e. less prone to leakages.
To meet this demand, Union Carbide developed a battery in 1985 Using zinc chloride technology. Pricing for the Product was fixed at a 20% higher level than red Eveready, the company’s premium brand in the standard range. The price-performance benefits of this product in relation to the best ‘standard’ battery available. The company and its agency, Rediffusion, then considered the following positioning options.
1. The Most Leak proof Battery Available in India
To carry conviction one would have to compare it to standard batteries including Red Eveready. Also 100% Leak proof performance could not be guaranteed.
2. The superior Modern Technology Position
Valid, but again this would have involved a comparison with Red Eveready. Besides, the competitive edge would be diminished when other brands like Navino and Nippo followed suit.
3. Performance Positioning
This could be legitimate and strong positioning, but more than any of the other alternatives, this position would hurt Union Carbide more than its competitors. It would have implied the inferiority of the Eveready Standard range (Red, Blue and White) which comprised 45% of the total battery market.
4. Eng-Use Based Positioning
Market research studies conducted for batteries had clearly indicated that consumers have a definite hierarchical perception of quality relative to the end-use of the battery. For example, a transistor is perceived to be a higher order equipment than a torch and hence if a battery is said to be designed especially for transistor usage. It is superior to a battery made for torches.
Research data had also indicated that in the hierarchy of equipments, Photoflash equipment was at the top, followed by cassette tape Recorders (CTRs) and other motorized gadgets. Transistors came next, with torches at the bottom of the rung.
Positioning this battery as a product for ‘modern machines’, i.e. CTRs, photoflash equipment and other motorized equipment would have allowed consumer beliefs regarding the equipment hierarchy to rub off on to the new product and would definitely help to position the product as a top-of-the-line battery, without endangering Eveready’s standard-line volumes/ market share.
However, a focus on end-use equipment to prove performance Superiority could only be effective if the consumer were given a ‘reason- why’ to believe the claim. The substantiation of this product claim lay in its zinc chloride technology. The technology linkage provided not only the ‘reason-why’ but also created premium image by clearly establishing the battery in ‘a class of its own’ because of its modern, exclusive technology. It also allowed Union Carbide to exploit the technology leadership factor inherent in the zinc chloride process, without worrying about the impeding competitive product launch.
Accordingly, this positioning statement for the new product, ‘Eveready Super’ was finally developed. No other battery can deliver such exceptionally high power and life for your power-hungry, high-drain devices because It is made with the breakthrough, first-time-in-India zinc Chloride technology.