Tag Archives: Positioning

Icelandverse

Iceland’s parody on Metaverse – a new tourism video sparking thought about virtual versus real life.

Zuckerberg told the world “the metaverse’s defining quality is the feeling of presence … like you’re there with other people.”

The Iceland Tourism board made a brilliant move by positioning the country Iceland as a complete opposite of a virtual reality world envisioned by Zuckerberg.  Icelandverse is ”a place of “enhanced actual reality without silly looking headsets.”

 

 

It is good that brands (countries are brands too!) position themselves by presenting an alternative or an opposite. We humans still need alternatives. If you are not all-in Metaverse, then there is an alternative, the Icelandverse. If you do not like Coca-Cola, there is Pepsi. Alternatives and opposites help people to make a choice.

 

And so much more…

It is the Apple WorldWideDeveloperConference time of year again! Traditionally the moment that Apple showcases significant changes to all their operating systems: macOS, iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS.

This year was a mixed bag. The announcements were mostly a list of Apple app updates. Clearly, Apple is a fine-tuning mode and has difficulties coming up with breakthrough features in the current platforms and usage scenarios.

Engadget stated for MacOS “With macOS Monterey, Apple is trying to polish its desktop operating system even further.”

What is worrying is that on the Apple.com front page there is just a sheer amount of features listed under every OS.

iOS 15

Connect with family and friends while watching and listening together in SharePlay. Be more present in the moment with Focus. Explore the world in unprecedented detail with a reimagined Maps. And use powerful on‑device intelligence to do more with iPhone than ever before.

iPadOS 15 update

Do more things even more easily with powerful new multitasking tools. Create notes from any app using Quick Note. Add new widgets that let you see information at a glance right on your Home Screen. And enjoy many of the great features also coming to iOS 15.

MacOS Monterey

Share your screen with friends and coworkers in entirely new ways with SharePlay. Explore a more immersive, customizable, and streamlined Safari. And with Universal Control, you can now work seamlessly between your Mac and iPad.

Watch OS8

Give your Portrait mode photos from iPhone a starring role on a dynamic new watch face. Unlock your door from your wrist with home keys. Work out with tai chi and Pilates. And center yourself with new Mindfulness experiences.

Now – tell me quickly….
What is the key reason to upgrade your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Watch?
or What is iOS 15, iPadOS15, Mac Monterey of Watch OS 8?

I know that the answer is not going to be a crisp one. Apple is not communicating the one reason to get completely excited about any of the updates, or the one reason you would want to have the updates running on your devices today.

Even when categories mature consumers need incentives to upgrade.  While difficult it is better to pick that One Feature to steer all communications and PR than having massive feature lists leaving consumers and media wondering where to focus on or determining which one is really important.

Apple Redefining the PC industry

The Apple The Future of Mac event was a big bold move as Apple transitions away from Intel processors to in-house developed silicon. The move is in fact a redefinition of the PC industry business from ‘processor speed’ to a pure choice in form factor.  Yet another industry will get a rude awaking. 

One to rule them all

The reason for Apple silicon is obvious: when you own the full stack from silicon to the user interface you are in control of the total experience while reducing interdependencies.

There is however one drawback to this approach and that became painfully obvious during the presentation of the new Macs: Apple has just one chip which is not advertised in speed.

Consumers have learned that processor speed and the type of processor determines the processing power of a computer. Secondly, by using different processors manufacturers are able to differentiate between their line-up.

An entry laptop will not have a 3.0Ghz 6 core processor with a turbo boost for example. The fact that it was technically not possible (battery and heat-wise) helped to differentiate in various product-lines built around the processor.

 

No more differentiation around the processor

With the introduction of M1, Apple uses the same silicon in their-line up. It was clear from the launch events that Apple struggled with the differentiation between the products.

Just take a look at the Apple Mac Compare page for the new M1 products: Macbook Air, Macbook Pro and Mini and you will notice it is all the same

There are some small differences, like Touch Bar, Wide Stereo Sound, nits brightness, expansion ports… but nothing more.

Even on the individual product pages, the same M1 information is presented:

 

The future is form 

Going forward the difference will be in the form, additional gimmicks, but not speed. In fact, just like with the iPhone product platform the difference will be the form factor: iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max

This change in dealing with a computer portfolio is probably the biggest change we have seen.

Taking this approach makes it easy for Apple to create product update cycles based on the M processors, which could go like this:

2020
Macbook Air M1
Macbook Pro M1
Mac Mini M1

2021
Macbook Air M2
Macbook Pro M2
Mac Mini M2
iMac M2

With heath and power consumption for the first time not being an issue anymore in the computing industry line-ups can be dramatically simplified.

During the launch event, the positioning between the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro was far from clear.  Both are exactly the same, except for some small features like ports, touch bar etc – so why would Apple keep in them in the long run? The answer: for the form factor, think screen sizes and future platform enhancements made possible by the total control of everything from processor to UI.

 

Redefining the PC industry

With the move to form factor based differentiation Apple is redefining the PC industry. The same portfolio simplicity that works with the iPhone, iPad, and Watch has now finally entered the desktop and laptop market.  The PC manufacturers with Intel will be in for a rude awakening.

 

Spotify, claim your leadership position now

The Spotify app for music streaming launched already back in 2008. For the majority of consumers, Spotify is still synonymous with Music Steaming.

The growth of Spotify in terms of subscribers is very impressive and in line with the uptake of 3G/4G data contracts and interest in ‘music as a service’ in general.
– 2011: 2M paying
– 2012: 15M free, 5M paying
– 2013: 18M free, 6M paying
– 2015: 55M free, 25M paying
– 2020: 133M paying

When looking at Google Trends data it is clear that very little people search for the product category “streaming music or streaming songs”. Instead, people search directly for the brand Spotify.

The insight:  the brand Spotify in the minds of consumers truly equals the category. What a wonderful position to be in!

Of course, the world changes, and like in every successful category competition comes in.  Besides Spotify, we now see players like Apple Music, TIDAL, Amazon Music, Youtube Music and Pandora (US only).

 

And while the fight is massive, with huge lock-in advantages for Apple and Amazon we still see that Spotify is leading the category (source: MidiaResearch)

  • Spotify: 36%
  • Apple Music: 18%
  • Amazon: 13%
  • TIDAL: not disclosed – part of  “the other” category at 11%

The market research results are in line with what we see in Google Search volume:  the clear leader is Spotify .

With all the new and very powerful competition, the overall marketing of “streaming music” grows and more and more people get interested.

The question is: who benefits? is it the perceived leader or the company doing all the marketing? It turns out, so far Spotify is benefitting. A Reuters technology news item from 2016 proved the point “Spotify says growth has quickened since Apple Music’s launch”.

There are two reasons for this:
1) Spotify remains to have the pioneering advantage – consumers know more about it and other services have not yet proven itself completely.

2) Consumers simply think “if Apple/ Youtube/ Amazon are active in streaming then (the leader) Spotify must be really good” and they default the purchase to the category leader. Consumers showed similar behavior during the famous Pepsi vs Coca-Cola challenge, also here the leader benefited.

 

Fast Forward to 2020…. 

Today we see many new streaming consumers, all people who do not know anything about the early days of streaming and might not have a perceived leader at all – they just go for what is most convenient “because they are all roughly the same anyway”

And looking at the brands in the App Store it seems they just don’t want to differentiate – at all!

Below are the descriptions in the App Store – try to find the differences or reasons to download one app over the other…

Spotify: Music and Podcasts
Discover the latest songs

Apple Music
60 million songs. All ad-free

TIDAL Music
Hifi Songs , Playlists & Video

Amazon Music: Listen Ad-Free
Stream & Download New Songs

YouTube Music
Stream Songs and play videos

 

Below is my attempt to position each app stronger by focussing on their strengths – helping consumers to navigate and make a choice.

Spotify: Music and Podcasts
The #1  streaming music app

Apple Music
The worlds biggest ad-free library

TIDAL Music
High fidelity sound, hi-def video

Amazon Music: Listen Ad-Free
Stream for free with Prime

YouTube Music
The #1 in music videos

 

In order for Spotify to keep their leadership position in the years to come, they will need to claim the position and live up to it – externally and internally.

Only then consumers who are in the market to spend money on streaming will be able to choose the leader because after all,  it is only the leaders who have followers.

 

Leuchtturm – what an experience!

I would have not ever thought to buy a real notebook ever again…. but I did! While walking around in a stationary store , many colorful notebooks from Leuchtturm were looking at me.

And I could not resist… why? Because the brand works!

The Leuchttrum brand: a promise made is a promise delivered.

 

 

1. Heritage

Leuchttrum is around since 1917, that is a very long time indeed, and according to the message, they firmly believe that details matter.

 

2. Details make all the difference

Leuchttrum does live up to their belief. This ‘simple’ notebook has the following features:

  • Pagination
  • Labels
  • Page markers (2x)
  • Ink proof paper!
  • Table of content
  • Pocket to store stuff
  • Perforated sheets (8x)
  • Thread bound & acid-free paper

 

3. Focus

Leuchtturm does one thing and one thing very well:  Notebooks. Their product offer is huge.

From the Notebook category, they moved into Planners and a few storage options

This is very different than Moleskine, offering everything from notebooks to bags, to device accessories.

The ‘better’ notebook brand is perceptual of course the brand creating only notebooks! A quick look at the Instagram account will convince you immediately. The books are not only beautiful but also very functional.

The Leuchttrum brand in a nutshell: a promise made is a promise delivered. 

Happy Socks

Happy Socks is not anymore just socks, it is underwear and now as well swimwear. How a great brand idea to turn everyday accessories into happy designed colorful items gets limited by the name.

I am a huge fan of the Swedish brand Happy Socks. In fact, my closet is full of their happy colorful socks 🙂 Happy Socks did something remarkable – they made a boring accessory item (socks!) into a hip fashion statement and succeeded.

The mix of focus on colorful socks, decent quality and a band name that boozes energy in a boring category works well. Their socks are truly happy compared to the traditional socks – and don’t we all need a little bit more happiness once in a while?

So, I understand that at the Happy Socks Headquarters the owners must have been thinking…. let’s replicate the success to other closely related categories like underwear. Now, I do have a couple of Happy Socks underwear items too, and it is just weird. I mean, a logo that reads Happy Socks on underwear is not the best possible combination.

 

Recently I got an email about a new line of products: swimwear. Yes, seriously – think about the following conversation:
-A- You wear cool swimwear!
-B- Thanks!
-A- What is it?
-B- Happy socks
-A- Sorry?

Of course, the core idea of the brand can be replicated to other categories as well – but in case of Happy Socks, the core brand name will forever be limiting.

In this case there are two options:
1. Stick with the category of socks – and take more market share
2. Bring the other products under a different brand

 

Do you recognise the challenges of your company in this article? Do you need clarity in brand architecture and optimising it for long term cross-sell and up-sell? Just get in touch with me. 

Mircosoft goes back to the future with renewed focus on productivity

It took a while, but slowly but surely Microsoft is becoming the company that truly stands for productivity.

Microsoft is going to make real strides in translating the brand into products and propositions and become again the company that stands for productivity; exactly as we came to know it.

After all, productivity is where the brand started for the masses. Think of the IBM PC with MS-DOS, first used in the business environment.

With the introduction of Windows and Office, it was, of course, completely clear: the combination in the workplace and synonyms for productivity.

Even the competition recognized this positioning. Apple made some jokes about PCs and PC users in its Mac vs PC ad, but deep down it was a character sketch of creative versus productive. This is also exactly the difference between the Office Suite and the Apple iWork Suite. One is focused on productivity, the other primarily on creativity.

Now it is clear again to Microsoft itself what the core of the company is. In an email, ceo Satya Nadella says that “at our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.’

The recent repositioning of the Surface tablets towards productivity is already a great example. In 2012, the Surface was launched as ‘a laptop in a tablet form’. Very inconvenient when the obvious trend is that the number of laptops is decreasing. In addition, the Surface had all sorts of problems such as a sky-high price (nota bene more expensive than a laptop with touch), moderate battery consumption and lack of applications. Due to its unclear positioning, the Surface was compared unfavorably to iPad, the #1 in the tablet category.

The new Surface website now provides more clarity. A translation of the brand into propositions is visible. I read ‘Surface – the most productive tablets on the world’. Of course this could have been even sharper, for example ‘Surface – the first tablet focused on productivity’ with a headline like ‘finally, a tablet that can replace your laptop’. But the beginning is there.

Now that Microsoft’s core is crystal clear, it needs to make a clear choice and then, of course, go for it. The recent news of 18,000 job cuts will certainly contribute to this. For example, how does the Xbox gaming platform fit with productivity? How does Nokia phones’ focus on their photographic capabilities fit with productivity?

If the brand is truly providing direction, then the character or values of the brand can be used as a compass. Creating and executing branded products & propositions then becomes easier. And consumers understand exactly what you do and-importantly-how you make a difference.

This article was published in Adformatie (Dutch).

Coca-Cola’s “Taste the Feeling” slogan does not differentiate

Marking a significant shift in its marketing strategy, Coca-Cola  announced on Jan 19 that for the first time, all Coke Trademark brands will be united in one global creative campaign: “Taste the Feeling.”

Chief Marketing Officer Marcos de Quinto says that “The bigness of Coca-Cola resides in the fact that it’s a simple pleasure – so the humbler we are, the bigger we are. We want to help remind people why they love the product as much as they love the brand.”

Rudolf Echeveria the VP of global creative, connections and digital, adds “we’re going from ‘Open Happiness’ to exploring the role Coca-Cola plays in happiness, we make simple, everyday moments more special.”

Sounds like a convincing story except that it does not differentiate Coca-Cola from the competition – at all. “Taste the feeling” works just fine with Pepsi as well.

Pepsi-taste-the-feeling

The soda industry is in decline

CMO de Quinto explains the insight behind the campaign “we’ve found over time that the more we position Coca-Cola as an icon, the smaller we become.” This is a strange insight since the decline of the soft drinks category is happening with or without the iconic Coca-Cola brand.

In the USA the category is already for 10 years (!) in decline. In 2014, there was 14% less sold than in 2004 with the biggest losses for the Diet variants fuelled by concerns over the use of artificial sweeteners. “Water is hot and diet soda is not” writes the WSJ.

It is Coca-Cola and Pepsi again

Inside the soft drink category there is a shift happening: for the first time in years the regular Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks are leading again. Cola drinkers are back to the core: real cola with sugar. The time could not be better to giver cola drinkers the real reason to choose Coca-Cola over Pepsi.

Taste the Real Thing

‘Taste the Feeling’ is not unique. What is? Taste the Real Thing of course!  No matter whether it is a regular Coca-Cola, Diet or Life, there can be only be one The Real Thing and that is Coca-Cola. The real reason to stay with the brand and buy it time after time again.

Coca-Cola-Taste-the-real-thing

Growth from other categories

To continue growth as a company the Coca-Cola Company will need to re-focus and reposition. Get leadership positions in new categories with new products under new brands.

And while exploring new categories and working on gaining leadership positions give current consumers the reason to drink Coca-Cola: Taste the real thing.

 

Go Volvo be Volvo – back to safety ? – Part III

This post is part of three Volvo Positioning articles :
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 (this article)
Reflection as to why successful companies change their positioning

————-

Regular readers of this blog know that I follow Volvo. I find it a fascinating brand and close to my heart. I am raised in a Volvo family and I still remember the day that we got a Volvo 240 and my father was proudly showing the (massive) crumple zone to anyone interested.

Unfortunately,  in my opinion Volvo has lost track with safety or simply got bored with it.

In search for the core

I wrote about Volvo in 2011 when the brand so hard tried to be a brand it is not (BMW, Audi, …), literally divesting all the hard-earned brand building. In  2014 I wrote again about Volvo.  In that year the brand continued to be in real trouble in the USA. Already in 2012 the WSJ Market Watch suggested that Volvo might as well exit the market.  I was eagerly waiting what the move of Volvo would be. The real options are of course to go fully back to the core of the brand or go further away.

The ‘in between’ option

Volvo has unfortunately chosen the ‘in between option’  of doing a bit of both. The new Volvo USA site is a clear manifestation of that approach.  I really like the new site, it feels Volvo. Unfortunately it does not read  Volvo.

The one thing we connect the Volvo brand to,  Safety is simply not a topic. Other car brands can get away with this but Volvo is not any other car brand, it is the brand that is perceived to be the safest car brand.

“This is Volvo Cars”  –  no  safety anymore

The lead text of the section “This is Volvo Cars” reads:

This-is-Volvo

Indeed, no mentioning of Safety at all. I would have changed that to something like this:

This-is-Volvo-Edit

Product pages – premium cars

The individual car pages follow the same pattern, with a tiny little mentioning of safety. Take a look at the  Volvo XC90 page. Beautifully designed yet the only mentioning of safety is in the right bottom of the page. And as you will see it is a long long scroll to get there.

XC90-safety

The XC90 page is no exception. On every other car page you find Safety in the rock bottom of the page.

Value propositions without safety 

XC90
Swedish grace – Our newest Volvo with bold harmonious design, pure uncluttered luxury, and advanced safety and comfort for seven

XC70
Choose your adventure – The XC70 is a supremely luxurious wagon for those who like their adventure with a sense of sophistication.

XC60
At home, everywhere – The perfect car for drivers in search of adventure around town and beyond it.

V60
The Sportswagon That Hauls – For people who need the versatility of a wagon, but want the dynamic handling of a sports sedan.

S80
Make A statement – The S80 sedan offers first class driving at its finest with every well-crafted detail designed to reward.
“Safety is #1”

Continued to be concerned with the approach and pleased with the new design I reached out to Volvo:

Tweet-Volvo-2

And happy to see a wonderful reply within 7(!) minutes:

Tweet-Volvo-1

Tweet-Volvo-3

So what is happening? Apparently something will happen with Safety. Personally I cannot wait to see safety all over the Volvo again to stop draining the brand. Imagine Volvo explaining in detail why each car is the safest in its class… that would be really Volvo!

Go Volvo be Volvo!

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This post is part of three Volvo Positioning articles :
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 (this article)
Reflection as to why successful companies change their positioning

 

Coca-Cola Life: the start of a new life?

Recently a woman was busy handing out green cans in the supermarket. From a distance it looked like the introduction of a new health drink. I got curious! When I got closer I saw that it was nothing less than the introduction of Coca-Cola Life – the Cola with ingredients of natural origin – in the Netherlands.

The pressure on Coca-Cola Company to go along with the trend of natural products requires little explanation. The soft drink category is in decline. At this time, Americans drink about 167 liters of soft drinks per year. This is a sharp decline from the 201 liters per person in 1998. Surprisingly, water once again has become America’s favorite drink. Up to 211 liters per person in 2013, an increase of 38% compared to 1998. At the same time, the worldwide market for organic food and beverages has grown enormously and it is expected that this year the US $ 100 billion limit will be exceeded.

It is therefore crystal clear that Coca-Cola must formulate a response to this trend. Yet, I cannot conclude otherwise that Coca-Cola Company has failed to create a brand-worthy match between the trend and the Coca-Cola brand.

On the trend but not on the brand

Coca-Cola represents energy, refreshment, joy and live positively. It is not about being healthy. To make a brand worthy connection with a trend, Coca-Cola Company must make sure this experience comes back in the answer on the trend. If you launch a new proposition, which Coca-Cola Company does, and then going to call it “Coca-Cola Life is our latest innovation within the Coca-Cola portfolio, sweetened with ingredients from natural origin and contains a third less sugar and calories’ , then you’re well on the trend but not on your brand. This is a missed opportunity.

Be fresh in nature

The brand image of Coca-Cola Life is very green. A green wooden crate with some plants, a few bottles of Life and in the background a haze of green grass. Very nice, but not for Coca-Cola, the brand that just about the real experience of energy, refreshment, joy, enjoy and live positively.

Red is the color of Cola

Coca-Cola Life is green and rationally that is right: green is the color of natural products. Emotionally, however, we know better: red belongs to the Coca-Cola brand experience and the cola category as a whole. Therefore you also find the color red on non Coca-Cola brands. The cans of Pepsi have some red, Walmart’s Sam’s Cola and the Freeway Cola of the German discount store Lidl are red. It seems to me unwise to let go of something so fundamental which is built by investing years in helping consumers making the association. To me, a much more brand-worthy experience would have been a red Coca-Cola Life can with hint of green.

Absolutely nothing beats Life

When a brand has the name Life it suggest that it is also good for your life, especially when it is reinforced by the green color that we all associate with healthy. But where does that leave all the other products? Does it not give an indirect warning to consumers that they are not good for your life?

This makes Coca-Cola ‘Life’ also an outsider in the Coca-Cola portfolio: all other Coca-Cola brands help consumers to make a choice based on taste or lifestyle. Think of Vanilla, Cherry, Zero, Coke and Caffeine-free. ‘Life’ does not help to make a choice on taste or lifestyle. A less comprehensive name that is in line with the brand would have made a better fit.

As a summary: it is great that Coca-Cola Company follows trends and capitalizes on it. Too bad they passed their strong brand totally. But hopefully also for Coca-Cola “Life can be full of surprises’ ….