Food Brand Positioning: Focus to Win

Rules for Food Brand Positioning: Focus To Win

It is one big, crowded, crazy-competitive world out there. How does a brand stand a chance? By finding its real brand strength and focusing on winning. Consider the following as you move ahead.

The Food Brand Positioning Challenge

The goal of food brand positioning is to determine and crystallize a business’s single most powerful point of differentiation in the marketplace. Then, the brand must use that position as a foundation for all marketing going forward.

For instance, until a few years ago, most supermarkets from independent to mass market all had pretty much the same footprint: a nondifferentiated produce section and identical or similar big brands lining the center of the store and freezer cases. Then came Whole Foods, which claimed the position (or what they call a motto) of “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet,” that wrote several supporting statements describing their unique value proposition. Before that, if you wanted organic, natural, or transparent food, you had to either go to a farmer’s market or that weird store in your community that smelled like a musty potato bin.

In an overcommunicated marketplace, consumers need clearly defined brands to help them make buying decisions. More than half of the frequently asked questions on the government’s nutrition.gov homepage are related to healthier eating. This means a significant market segment is looking for healthier eating alternatives, and
Whole Foods grabbed it first, even though the company is relatively.

Good Food Brand Positioning Is Sticky

The “Whole Foods = organic and natural food brand position” has been so strong for so long that natural/organic “sticks” to Whole Foods like an ant in honey. Walmart’s “sticky” brand position is low price. The “sticky” position at Starbucks is an expensive premium-coffee experience.

A Brand Position Cannot Be Abstract

To own an excellent strong brand position, a brand must be focused, concise, real, and tangible. This position is easier to find when a company recognizes what they sell. For instance, Ben & Jerry’s does not sell ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s sells a progressive social mission in a hippie hat.
Similarly, Arby’s does not sell fast food. It sells “the meats.” Pepsi sells youthful exuberance and not soda. Tropicana does not sell orange juice. It sells Florida sunshine. The sooner a brand dials in on what it sells, the easier it is to define a tangible brand position.

A Brand Position Must Be Relevant to the Prospect

A brand position must be relevant to the prospect in the way it speaks to something the target audience cares about. Defining an audience is the first and most important step in positioning a brand—the tighter and narrower the focus, the better the chance for success. For example, first-time parents research every product that has to do with their babies. Just as their cribs, strollers, and baby seats all must be the safest and highest-rated to be considered for purchase, the baby’s food must be the best for developmental and cognitive growth. A brand position may be so strong in the market that there is no question of it being bought. For example, Gerber came out with Gerber Organic SmartNourish, a brand name that’s virtually synonymous with baby food in the way Xerox is for copying, and Google is for internet research.

Gerber Organic SmartNourish is a product name that hits all the high notes. Also, the product delivers. Gerber Organic SmartNourish is listed at the top of Consumer Reports stage 1 baby food recommendations.

A Brand Position Must Be Relative to the Competition

It’s a brand-eat-brand world in every category. To stand out, a brand position must be relative to every other competitive option. A brand needs to own a position that no one else has. Here are a few examples of slogans that position brands:

  • You can “Have it Your Way” at Burger King, as opposed to the strict assembly-line burger you get from McDonald’s (as Burger King would have you believe)
  • There’s a “Pepsi Generation,” as opposed to the old folks who like Coke (as the Pepsi-perpetuated myth goes)
  • Pork is the “Other White Meat” as opposed to National Pork Council’s facts that show when folks are not choosing red meat, they are choosing chicken for dinner

You can have fun with your slogan, but correct brand positioning identifies the brand, its category, and its relevance to your target audience, and speaks to the brand’s relativity to the competition. Like I said before, it’s a big, crowded, crazy-competitive world out there, and an excellent focused position can deliver a brand win.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about this food brand positioning, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our “Intel” page or check out NewPoint’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.