Saturday, 13 February 2010

Market positioning

A SOAP is a soap is a soap. Well, in the old days at least, that was the thinking. As long as it bubbled, cleaned, and made one smell reasonably fresh, it had done its job. One soap was as good as any other.

Today, the choice for consumers is not quite as limited as that anymore.

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If one wanted to be doubly sure about cleanliness, there are any number of germicidal soaps out there in the market specifically for their needs. From sulfur and zinc soaps, to those with other germicidal ingredients, the choice is varied. For those whose main concern is moisturizing, for them too there is a wide variety of available products, which all claim to be able to add moisture to one’s dry skin. And then, of course, there is the craze of the moment—whitening soaps, which cater to the Filipinos’ obsession to be of the color they are not.

For them too there are a lot of products which promise to fulfill this vanity, and to make them look like they were born in Los Angeles, California instead of Angeles City, Pampanga.

There are even soaps which do not look like soaps at all.

Those among us of the more sophisticated bent go for liquid shower gels to cleanse ourselves, preferring the convenience and exclusivity of the product over the mass market appeal of the soap bar. From products sold by mass market FMCGs, to the more niche appeal of those from the Body Shop, to the really snobbish Molton Brown, there is likewise a large selection to choose from. So long as there is money to spend, there are products to buy.

All a matter of market positioning among the competing products.

Some products stand for cleanliness, others for moisturizing, a number for low cost, and a few for exclusivity. Each group appeals to a particular segment of consumer, whose needs and wants it is able to address.

The coming May 2010 elections is an interesting study in political market positioning among the candidates. From Noynoy to Gibo, Manny to Erap, Dick to Eddie, and Nick to Jamby, all project themselves somewhat differently to the electorate.

And whether or not their images will resonate with voters in terms of the satisfaction of the latter’s needs and wants, determines whether they will succeed in governing this country, or end up returning to their day jobs.

First off, we have Noynoy, the honest boy. Born to Cory and Ninoy, he promises to carry the torch of integrity, and rid the country of the scourge of graft and corruption.

His campaign slogan says that he will not steal, and will give back to the people every cent they paid in tax in the form of better services. To those of us who are fed up with financial scandals, tax cheats and other political shenanigans, his campaign is the beacon of hope for clean government.
Then we have Noynoy’s cousin, Gibo Teodoro. He positions himself as an intelligent voter’s choice. Brainy, articulate and extremely competent, his message to the voters is that he will elevate this country to greater heights. Ready to fly, is his slogan.

Manny Villar, the self-made billionaire from the slums of Tondo, comes to the voter with his “man for the masses” appeal. I’ve been there, done that, paid all my dues, is his rallying cry.
He is saying to the voters that if they vote for him, he will do all he can to elevate the plight of the poor, in the same way as he elevated his own station in life many years ago.

More next week…
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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2010.

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