The Least Effective Positioning Strategy During Cynical Times

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Building Trust with Millennials

We ALL share this challenge.

Whether your company’s product is an alcoholic beverage, an app for smart phones or an automobile, today’s potential buyers are more sophisticated and skeptical than ever. They know about the logic/psychology/manipulation behind advertising messages. Millennials,in particular KNOW they shouldn’t trust anyone…be it big business, big government or big media.

Recently, Havas Media published findings from their surveys about 700 brands that reached 134,000 consumers in 23 countries. In the majority of the countries, 73% of the respondents would not care if the major brands went away. In the USA and Europe, the detachment from brands was a huge 92%. Consumers in Asia and South America expressed a bit more brand attachment, but other research suggests that it is quickly diminishing on those continents as well.

In response to consumer cynicism, some companies have decided to convey leadership. Experts endorse their products. Research is cited to prove their claims. They choose authoritative titles that include words like FIRST, WORLDWIDE or PREMIERE. Maintaining industry leadership is expensive, and skepticism makes it even more difficult to achieve. The “who cares” factor impacts ROI.

Others have opted to become challengers. Their marketing emphasizes how specific features are superior to a competitor’s. This helps the companies be more nimble in their marketing and potentially seem more current, but the challenger position can dilute the message and can remind consumers of childhood “tattle tales” (snitches or bullies).

Niche positioning has become more popular during these cynical times because getting into the minds of a select group of potential buyers seems more possible than trying to appeal to everyone. Niche positioning often leads to multiple or micro brands, more complex organizations and increased expense.

Maybe the least expensive positioning during skeptical times is follower. After all, skeptical consumers can quickly compare features and prices online. Why not opt for lowest price? This positioning isn’t easy either because millennials are not just your/our potential customers; they are your/our employees. In general, millennials are not seeking careers in companies that don’t honor patents, cut corners, resist innovation and seem boring.

There are risks associated with each positioning. In my opinion, the least effective option is to jump around. Why should millennial employees and consumers trust a company that says it’s a leader one year, acts like a challenger the next and claims to be a focused specialist (niche) the next?

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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