Brand positioning is to identify and determine the differentiating features of a brand in order to create brand identity and brand image. These features are unique characteristics of the brand and they offer a reason as to why consumers should opt for that brand against others products in the same category. This gives a competitive advantage to the brand. The greatest skill is to determine the desired brand meaning or what the consumers need to know about the brand. Brand positioning is about determining these brand knowledge structures that are the unique characteristics of that brand.
Brand positioning in healthcare can be simply put as finding the right position for the healthcare brand. It is the process of designing what healthcare provider has to offer and create a distinct position in the minds of the consumers. This will ensure that the consumers or patients think about the healthcare product or service in the desired manner and help in building brand equity. Brand positioning is the core of healthcare marketing strategy. With good brand positioning, consumers are well aware of the characteristics of the healthcare brand, its benefits, its uniqueness, and reasons to buy that brand. This helps to develop brand knowledge, awareness and brand image.
For successful brand positioning the healthcare providers need to understand their target consumers, main competitors, the similarities and differences of their brand from their competitors
· Target consumer
Identifying target consumer is important to understand different consumer groups, their brand knowledge, perceptions and brand preferences. This will help in market segmentation, where different markets can be divided on the basis of similar needs and consumer behavior. Certain factors need to be considered while identifying market segments. These include determining if the segment is identifiable, its sales potential, accessibility, communication media availability and responsiveness of the target market. For example, a healthcare brand producing calcium supplements positions itself as a product, especially for growing children, as they are the identified potential target consumers.
It is necessary that healthcare providers are well informed about their competitors and the nature of competition. Competitive analysis takes into account the resources, capabilities and future plans of the other brands.
· Points of differences and similarity
Points of difference are the features that are uniquely linked with that healthcare brand only. These points are the benefits that are strongly associated to the brand in the minds of consumers. Points of parity are the characteristics that may be similar to other competitor brands and not necessarily unique to that particular brand. For example, a branded hospital may have a special novel facility, which is unique to that hospital and no other hospital in that area owns it. This is one of its points of difference.
As a general guideline for brand positioning, it is necessary to define and communicate the competitive structure and establish points of similarity and difference in comparison to the competitors.