Setting the Competitive Framework for a Competitive Edge0001

Setting the Competitive Framework for a Competitive...

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[lts, in, chord. Setting the Competitive Framework foraCompetitive Edge 1 hadn't been working at the company for long when one of the new products people handed me a plain white bag containing one of their promising new items. IITry these HUT (home use test samples)-they're terrific," she said. IIWhat are they?" 1 asked. IIThey'resweet, crunchy, and really addictive ... we're calling them granola snacks-to compete with all those semi-sweet new snacks." IINo thanks," 1 replied, 111 can't stand granola." Competitive Framework and Brand Positioning The real,life interchange above illustrates what-at its most basic level-the competitiveframework of abrand's positioning issupposed to do: enable the intended customer to quickly discern: (a)what kind of product is being pre, sented, and (b)what other products itcan substitute for among their share ofre, quirements. In this example, designating the new snack "granola" wasmerely one execution of the product's competitive framework. And, in the case of this example, you can also see how quickly customers can "compute" their trial (or purchase) decisions based on their perception of the framework. Sometimes you may see competitive framework referred to as frame- of-reference. They are similar terms, hut the former seems the more practical . of the two, especiallywhen building or re,tooling a brand positioning. It is
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more practical for a couple of reasons: 1. Not only should a competitive framework signal to customers, but it should also make clear to manufacturers (and their agencies!)what the expected source of volume isfor the brand, or, what products the brand competes with. 2. In addition, thanks largelyto a tremendous amount of new product in- novation lately, traditional "hard and fast" category boundaries have broken down. There is a true blurring of the categories: shampoos are now condi- tioners, as well as hair-nutrients; pretzels aren't salty snacks, they're baked better-for-you (BFY)snacks; antacids are now even more-they're acid block- ers; and self-tanners are (with moisturizers added) therapeutic skin care. Quite simply, manufacturers across many categories are more often gam- bling for higher stakes by trying to get customers to perceive their brands as substitutes for a broader set of products. So, "competitive framework" isthe operative phrase these days. Now, how do you put it into action for your business, for your brand positioning? A real useful place to start is by diagramming where your current competi- tive framework sits in the marketplace, along with as many other possibili- ties as you can think of-as in the longstanding and now classic Tree Diagram for lellD brand: A goo start in t and left! ion, Jell- I gelatin, \ called "P the even Over t set of sui line has tc effectivel some pie, seriously Jell-Oha~ tween th food coo well's). S card": a 1 the best f one-fourt would yOl As alre egory blu Rather, tl ., .
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