Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Brand, The Customers Experience and Positioning

In a recent post by Laura Ries in here blog "The Origin of The Brand" (Original post “Alta is for Skiers”)she injects the premise that it is more important to position the brand than to serve the customer. This is pretty much a very traditional middle of the road position in the marketing and branding industry. She also suggested the reason that the "Alta" ski resort in Utah (subject of her post) used a brand positioning strategy to position themselves opposite of the current trend of snow boarding. They did this to distinguish their brand from others who follow the trendy side of snow boarding thus giving themselves a stronger marketing position. Snow boarding vs. skiing and they found it in skiing.

Below are my comments in reply to her post.
Positioning isn't always as important as the customer experience. The Brand offers the promise or at the very least hope, but if not delivered it alienates the market (customer). The customer needs to be the prime focus in the success formula.

Alta new this, they kept getting more and more ski enthusiast from other slopes and were smart enough to realize that for that market segment others (competing slopes) were alienating their market. Alta was astute enough to capitalize on the trend and focus on their core competency (key) and that was concentrating on and delivering a superior product to their particular segment of the market, the skiing enthusiast.

By the way they had considered snow boarding and had made a decision to open up one of their runs to the boarding public. In doing so they also lost most of their cross over market. Thank goodness they didn't follow the trend. Purest need the real thing and they new this.

This market segment is large enough for now, but upward market pressure may still eventually force a change. Pure skiers are a dying breed and as they mature and move out of the market a younger more board centered user will move them back into the mainstream. They will survive at the top regardless because they put the customer ahead of the brand.

Alta's positioning strategy wasn't their main concern, but delivering on the brand promise and continuing to provide a great customer experience was.

Now I agree that positioning can be a great tool, but not always, and when you create an enemy or go the opposite direction to distinguish your brand it may backfire and alienate you from the very market you’re trying to attract. Yes, you made a name for yourself, but it left a negative impression and a bad customer experience.

As always we invite you to post your comments and share in the blogging experience. You don't have to agree, but please comment.

For more information on the customer experience and its management you may want to visit The Customer Development Center

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