What is Over-Positioning in Marketing?

Positioning vs Over-Positioning

Positioning is how consumers perceive competing brands in the marketplace relative to each other on various attributes, benefits, and other points of difference.

Over-positioning, on the other hand, is when the brand tries too hard with positioning and takes a too-narrow or too-niche approach.

Or put it another way, over-positioning means that the brand has been too tightly positioned and has focused upon a precise set of benefits or focused upon an unusual benefit that only appeals to a very niche market.

Whichever way you look at it, over-positioning is not good and is best avoided.

This is because over-positioning:

  • limits the brand’s potential,
  • reduces the customer base, and
  • creates the perception that the brand is a specialist product only.

While this tight positioning strategy may be beneficial for charging a price premium, in reality, the loss of sales turnover is quite substantial, most likely resulting in minimize profitability.

Please scroll down for tips on how to identify and fix over-positioning, or review the following summary video…

How to Avoid Over-positioning

What is Over-Positioning?

Over-positioning occurs when we drill down and focus upon a very small market and/or where key benefit (or combination of benefits) that we have chosen to position on are too precise and narrow.

As a result, we substantially reduce our market potential and simply don’t sell enough of the product.

How to Identify Over-Positioning?

By analyzing the brand by using a series of perceptual maps, you will find that your brand will primarily fall in the middle of every perceptual map.

But then suddenly, on one map, the brand is sitting out very strongly for one attribute only. Usually not two attributes on the same perceptual map, there will be just one attribute where you stand out.

Your brand mainly sits in the middle of most perceptual because the brand is only known for one benefit. As a result, in the consumer survey, most respondents score the brand in the middle because the brand does not stand out.

And when respondents are asked about the one attribute that you have heavily positioned on, then your score will be quite high and you will almost “jump off the page” for that attribute on a perceptual map. This unique pattern of perceptual mapping shows that your brand is, unfortunately, over-positioned.

Example of Over-Positioning

Let’s assume that our company makes cans of soup.

And let’s assume that there’s a competitor that has positioned their brand on great taste and good for the whole family. We would call that under-positioned because it’s not highlighting any key benefits, and nothing is jumping out in the marketplace.

But over-positioning is when we get carried away and drill down too much. For example, we position our brand as:

  • vegan,
  • low-carb,
  • spicy,
  • instant soup, and
  • designed for one person.

This manner of drilling down and combining benefits will end up with a very precise positioning. And while we will have a virtual “monopoly”  if someone walks in and wants that specific combination of product attributes – how many people is that?

As you can see, by overly defining our positioning we have effectively “short-changed” the brand and locked it into a very narrow customer base. We need to balance positioning with market viability. Being too tightly positioned, or over-positioned, means that we have limited our market potential by “trying too hard” with our positioning strategy.

Why Over-Positioning is Not Ideal?

When it comes to over-positioning, we have effectively doubled, or more, our positioning in the market. In essence, we have narrowed ourselves down – not our competitors. We have done the competitor’s job of limiting our sales potential.

And sure, yes we’ll have no direct competitors, creating that “monopoly”, but will also have very few customers.

Just remember that it’s important to strike a balance between meeting the needs of a target market and not drilling down too much with positioning to the point where we limit our market potential.

Key Points on Over-positioning

In conclusion, over-positioning is when we try too hard with positioning and take a too narrow or too niche approach.

It’s essential to strike a balance between meeting the needs of a particular target market and not drilling down too much to limit our market potential.

You can identify over-positioning by running a series of perceptual maps and watching out for any maps where you’re sitting all by yourself for only one attribute. This pattern shows that you are over-positioned.

Related Articles

Scroll to Top