Brand positioning in financial services: IMPLICATIONS

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In essence, the key finding of this research is that there did not appear to be brand positions that were consistently more strongly related to customer vulnerability for a single brand. The attributes that were ‘better’ tended to be for all brands in the market. Indeed looking across the different attributes included in this study there was minimal variation across most attributes and brands.

These results have important implications for developing positioning strategies. One of the key tenets of marketing is that to be successful a brand should have a unique position. In this research, however, the ‘better’ positions were ones where all brands were competing with each other. This is probably because, being competing brands, when one brand sends out a message or undertakes some marketing activity that is effective, other brands are quick to copy. Thus over time the brands end up being perceived as similar to each other in the eyes of their customers. Therefore positioning options may not in themselves need to be unique, but the greatest ability for the brand to stand out from the competition (ie be distinct) may come from the execution/creative element of communicating the position. That is, it is not the message but the way that it is communicated that is important. The key aspect is gaining attention and correct branding of any marketing communications to ensure that customers (appropriately) process the message.

The second key finding from this research is the suggestion that a source of key brand positions can be consumers and their sentiment at the time. This also means that positioning attributes are likely to change as the interests/focus of customers change over time, which is perhaps another reason why better, unique positions are hard to sustain. This suggests that brands could look to customers and their perceptions and interactions with the product category as a source of suggestions on what to focus on in marketing communications, and not rely on techniques that ask consumers to identify what they perceive to be areas of differentiation between brands.


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