What is in a name? Positioning

Let me clarify something first, this post is not meant to judge any brand/product or to imply that they are not delivering what they say they are.

Positioning is how a brand tries to find a set of attributes to get a clear, attractive, different position on a market. It is also what you, I, anybody expects a brand to be or to do according to what they say they are (usually their core “philosophical” value that most of the time can be found on their website under “about us”) and what we think they are (as our perception of them might be slightly different of what the companies would like to sell us).

 I did a little non-scientific survey and took a look at different tea companies from different countries, supplying tea bags and/or loose leaf ones.

What did I find?

Words like finest, health, lifestyle, tastes, wonderful, quality, perfection, refinement, premium, tradition, simplicity, uniqueness, best seem to come back on a regular basis with a few others being

If you remember the whole idea of companies and marketing is to make one product or one brand looks different than the others to be able to sell it and one tool to visualise it is perceptual mapping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceptual_mapping)

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I decided to try to make a perceptual map with the words I had found while looking at the different websites and to my “surprise”; in nearly all the combinations I could make/find, there was no way to really separate the different companies (there were always a couple of companies that would not really be in the same place as the pack but they were really minor ones).

The only item in which there were clear differences is the tradition/simplicity (or modern) approach (and apart from a couple of them, I am not even sure how the companies really perceive these two words) and when looking at the countries of each company, it seems this simplicity/modern thing is more seen in the USA and other English speaking countries whereas the other countries are more adept of the “tradition” approach to tea (but there are exceptions in both groups).

Why this split? Perhaps some more in-depth research on both the key words and my conclusions should be made but I think that it comes from the clichés these different countries have on tea and the perceived need by those trying in the past years to launch tea companies in the USA that in order for the market to rise, there was a need to simplify things to make them more appealing to the “average” consumer, still full of “old ladies drinking their tea with some milk at 5 o’clock in the afternoon” and of people selling them that “the perfect tea must be brewed for 5.2 minutes at exactly 87.4°C and with a water coming from Greenland (the last trusted water resort).”

What are the risks of not being able to differentiate one company from another (in terms of who they pretend to be)? To be unable to deal with their commitment and to lose potential new customers unable to make the difference between this or that brand and the one that said the same thing but tasted “not so good.”

In the end, the customers will be the one judging the companies and their products and companies have to deliver what they promised to.

Perhaps is it time for companies to become more openly different one from another?

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Xavier

My name is Xavier.

I live on the other side of the pond but you had probably found this out thanks to my “strange” English.

I am a tea addict and I studied several (and I do mean several) years ago marketing, hence this blog, which will try to combine both worlds.
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