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Points-of-difference (PODs) – Attributes or benefits consumers strongly associate with a brand, positively evaluate and believe they could not find to the same extent with a competing brand i.e. points where you are claiming superiority or exclusiveness over other products in the category.
Points-of-parity (POPs) – Associations that are not necessarily unique to the brand but may be shared by other brands i.e. where you can at least match the competitors claimed bets. While POPs may usually not be the reason to choose a brand, their absence can certainly be a reason to drop a brand.
While it is important to establish a POD, it is equally important to nullify the competition by matching them on the POP. As a late entrant into the market, many brands look at making the competitor's POD into a POP for the category and thereby create a leadership position by introducing a new POD.
The assessment of consumer desirability criteria for PODs should be against:
Whilst when assessing the deliverability criteria for PODs look at their:
These will help understand how successful these PODs are likely to be in the minds of the consumer.
Kevin Keller and Alice Tybout note there are three types of difference: brand performance associations; brand imagery associations; and consumer insight associations. The last only comes into play when the others are at parity. Insight alone is a weak point of difference, easily copied. Putting these together, check their desirability, deliverability and eliminate contradictions.
Traditionally, the people responsible for positioning brands have concentrated on the differences that set each brand apart from the competition. But emphasizing differences isn't enough to sustain a brand against competitors. Managers should also consider the frame of reference within which the brand works and the features the brand shares with other products.
Asking three questions about your brand can help:
- Have we established a frame? A frame of reference signals to consumers the goal they can expect to achieve by using a brand.
- Are we leveraging our points of parity? Certain points of parity must be met if consumers are to perceive your product as a legitimate player within its frame of reference.
- Are the points of difference compelling? A distinguishing characteristic that consumers find both relevant and believable can become a strong, favourable, unique brand association, capable of distinguishing the brand from others in the same frame of reference.
- The principle of positioning Kevin Lane Keller and Alice Tybout, Market Leader, Issue 19, Winter 2002, pp.65