Question: “If I were to write a Positioning Statement for the Apple’s iPhone, I would write it this way: ‘For the <mobile user> who <needs a single multipurpose handheld device>, the <iPhone> provides <a phone with Internet access and a widescreen audio/video player>. Unlike <a BlackBerry>, the <iPhone is years ahead with an ever-growing collection of applications for every purpose>‘. Is this a good example?”
Answer: The example is good but is lacking on several components. For example, nobody really “needs a single multipurpose handheld device”. People have a deep need for which the “single multipurpose handheld device” is the solution. A major differentiator that should be included in the product positioning statement is the iPhone’s ultra-friendly and intuitive user interface.
The template for a product positioning statement is:
“For the <target customer> who <statement of need or opportunity>, the <product name or category> provides <statement of key benefit>. Unlike <primary competitive alternative>, the <product> <statement of primary differentiation>.”
Remembering that all marketing content is subjective and endlessly debatable, the iPhone vs. Blackberry product positioning statement could be as follows:
“For the <individual> who <needs to be entertained, communicate, do business, and manage their information while being mobile>, the <iPhone, a single multipurpose handheld device with Internet access and a widescreen audio/video player> provides <a collection of applications for every purpose>. Unlike <BlackBerry>, the <iPhone> <possesses an unmatched ultra-friendly and intuitive user interface>”.
Question: “If I were to write another Positioning Statement for say the Google Andriod, I couldn’t use the iPhone vs. Blackberry positioning statement. That other product actually provides those same features, so it’s not “positioning” the iPhone as having unique value. Is this correct?”
Answer: Separate product positioning statements for iPhone vs. Android and iPhone vs. Blackberry will be created only if the iPhone is competing against each of these respective competing products in two distinctly separate target markets.
The underlying assumption is/was that iPhone would compete against Blackberry for the business target market segment and that the iPhone would compete against Android phones in the business target market segment segments. Only one properly crafted product positioning statement is required if this assumption is wrong and iPhone is competing in the same target market against both Blackberry and Android phones.
Question: “What if the market consists of more than two strong competitors? Let’s be specific here. Apple is competing these days in the smartphone market primarily with RIM/Blackberry and with Google/Android. Microsoft and Palm are no longer significant players. Please comment.”
Answer: A product positioning statement is always formulated per each target market, not per each competitor. So regardless of the competitive landscape and the number of competitors, only one product positioning statement is required if there is only one target market. Two product positioning statements will be required if there are two distinctly different target markets.
Question: “Would Apple need two product positioning statements for the iPhone (for consumers), one for RIM and a second one for Android? Can’t Apple’s differentiating statement say something like ‘Unlike the competition …’? Is this correct?”
Answer: Only one product positioning statement is required for one specific target market (consumers). Addressing the nature of the competition in the target market is reflected in the way the product positioning statement is crafted.
The product positioning statements’ components deal with either categories or specifics. For example, “RIM/Blackberry” or “Keyboard Operated Smartphones” are correct entries with regard to the component of the product positioning statement.
In this example, “RIM/Blackberry” is considered the primary competitive alternative product to the iPhone, or the “Keyboard Operated Smartphones” (Nokia, Ericson, Samsung, etc’) represents the primary competitive alternative category of products that competes with the iPhone.