The difficulties of successfully repositioning
Repositioning is not a simple decision or a simple task to successfully implement. Some of the unique challenges of repositioning are outlined in the following table.
|Lose existing sales
|If a product is repositioned, then it moves away from its current positioning. It is likely that a significant proportion of any existing sales may be lost because the product will no longer be deemed suitable for the existing customers.
|Repositioning requires the target market to change their understanding of a product. In other words, they may need to forget much of what they understood about the product and learn a number of new aspects instead.
|Positioning is how the product is understood relative to competitors. A repositioning program is often disrupted by competitors who try and confuse the message of the firm; by highlighting ‘we made them change’ or a similar theme that indicates that the competitor offerings are far superior.
|As the consumer needs to be ‘re-educated’, there needs to be some learning undertaken. This is far more of a challenge with low-involvement purchases, as the consumer is typically disinterested.
|Cost versus new brand
|Repositioning is often an expense exercise as the product is often modified and the communications cost is substantial. Therefore, the firm needs to consider whether introducing a new brand/product instead would be a more prudent option. (This is discussed in a section on new brand or repositioning.)
|Cost and time
|Repositioning requires the changing of many consumers’ understanding and perception. This may take years to fully achieve and is likely to be reasonably expensive. The cost-benefit of this approach needs to be carefully considered.
|Marketing mix support
|A product positioning is generated from its supportive marketing mix (see separate section on this issue). Therefore, a successful repositioning probably requires some changes to the product at least and may require changes to the other marketing mix elements as well.