Repositioning helps customers think of your product or service in a new way.
Sometimes it works. I grew up with $10 tennis shoes. Nike told younger generations they were “training tools” (with appropriate tool and endorsers names) not just shoes. Nike got it right and made big profits.
Sometimes repositioning doesn’t work. Probably the most famous example is Coca Cola’s “New Coke” that they introduced in April 1985 and hastily removed from the shelves on July 11, 1985. There are plenty of other examples as well including rabbit jerky and clear beer products, and Nova cars (a cause for realistic concern for Spanish speakers). They all seemed good ideas at the time.
New Heart-warming “Reality Repositioning”™
One 75 year-old traditional business is trying to show it’s new by using what I call “Reality Positioning”™ strategy. It uses our current reality to show how their product fits better with how we live or want to live now.
It’s hard to make a traditional mattress hip or sexy or reflect real life but that’s what Serta Mattress has done using reality positioning™. Watch for their commercials; they are subtle but reflect real life. One of them has a couple AND a dog because many of us “pull up a dog” on a cold night — or maybe the dog pulls up a “warm human”.
Have you wondered where the term “3 dog night” came from? My uncle Gordon would tell you it’s from how many dogs it took to keep you warm. (BTW, no dog ever slept on his bed that I knew about. My grandmother wouldn’t have allowed it.) For those of us with pets, it’s kind of heart-warming and makes the bed more than just a comfort zone. Since there are more dogs than children PBS’s “Dogs Decoded” program on NOVA told us, there are probably a lot of us going against older traditions or coming out in the open about it.
Your bed is a sanctuary not just a place to sleep. That’s the new message we’re hearing and seeing — and not just in commercials. If you’re an HGTV and DIY junkie as I am, I long for my TV, wine bar, coffee maker, and waterfall so I never have to leave my bedroom!
Then there’s the new Serta slogan which goes along with this repositioning. And, the new commercial — flashes of how life takes place on a mattress. This special mattress they show us is where life (including suggested sex) takes place and as Serta new positioning says: “Whatever you do, we support you.”
I can’t predict the success of the strategy or the product but I can say that I like the approach. It’s refreshing to have something to relate to instead of aspire to.
The change wasn’t done on a whim. It was based on good evidence. According to a recent CARAVAN telephone omnibus survey sponsored by Serta Mattress, nearly 70% of Americans are turning to the bedroom for more than sleep. Findings also included that:
- 1 in 3 American adults surf the web or check emails from bed
- 60% of parents are watching television together in bed
- Younger Americans (18-35 years old) are more likely to make phone calls, work and watch television in bed when compared to all survey respondents
If you’re in a related business, you can apply this research to your marketing. If you’re not, you can use this model to look at what are the new uses for products or services like yours. Make sure you think about this in terms of the six potential outcomes your customer wants:
- Something solved.
- A problem reduced.
- A way to maintain the status quo.
- A potential problem prevented.
- An issue eliminated.
- An opportunity created.
Reality Repositioning™ is good news for commodity businesses
If you sell something that is currently perceived as a commodity, see if reality positioning™ is applicable. Maybe the best thing about it is that it gives continuous opportunities to refresh your brand because reality changes.
But, be sure to do your market research homework first. It takes vision to see the potential. It takes a keen mind and good processes and systems to carry it off fully in all parts of the business — not just the marketing. Good luck!
Do you have a favorite “oops” marketing story or how about one that you admire?