Over and Under Positioning

What is under-positioning and over positioning?

Sometimes the terms under-positioned and over-positioned are used when highlighting positioning problems. (Note: It is probably worthwhile reviewing the section on points-of-parity and points-of-difference).  However, let’s start by explaining the terms under-positioned and over-positioned.


A firm that has under-positioned a product has failed to communicate a clear positioning to the end-consumer. This means that the product positioning is vague or that the firm has tried to communicate too much about the product (and the consumers are confused about what the product stands for). In either case, the positioning is quite weak and we have not effectively communicated any real points-of-difference.


Almost the opposite of that problem, is referred to as over-positioning. This is where we have over emphasized one or two points of the product and the target market now has been very narrow perception of what the product offers. So rather than communicating array of both points-of-parity and points-of-difference, the firm has focused on one point-of-difference only. The problem here is that the target market may interpret the product as being a very specialized solution, which would dramatically limit its overall market appeal and sales potential.


Whether the product is under or over positioned the outcome is still the same; potential sales will be limited (either because the target market does not clearly understand it or the market believes it is a very highly specialized product). The solution to both these problems is careful construction of positioning strategy, with the appropriate mix of points-of-parity and points-of-difference as discussed above.