What Bicycles Can Teach Us About Product Positioning

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What would you say if I told you that I spent three times as much money as a friend who bought a bike? Not only that, but I bought a bicycle that is more fragile, less stable and is significantly less comfortable to ride?

You'd probably say that I made a poor buying decision.

I did not.

My friend purchased a mountain bike, designed for use on rough terrain - mountains, ditches and forests. I purchased a road bike, designed for use on, well, roads. Mine is more fragile, because lighter materials will let me pedal faster and strength isn't important when riding on flat, clear terrain. My bicycle has much thinner tires, which makes it more difficult to balance but also reduces the friction against the road, allowing me to travel faster and farther. Similarly, my position when riding is less relaxed (and my back more strained), but as a result, I can more easily transfer energy from my legs to the bicycle's pedals, allowing me to travel faster and farther.

So while some would say that my bicycle is "more fragile, less stable and less comfortable to ride", others would say that my bicycle is "lighter, faster and built for long distance travel".

There are few products that are better than the competition in every respect. As a marketer, your job will be to understand your customers' needs and to explain your product's benefits over the competition.