Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What makes a great market position?

The short answer is a position that is important to the customer, can be satisfied in a superior and sustainable way, and provides a clear and credible point of distinction.

There are several paths available from which companies can choose to reach this preferential destination.  One is to both innovate around the core job your customers are trying to get done and around the “consumption” of the products or services your company provides.  Some examples of this include Apple (their products are clearly innovative, but their stores, web site, and App store are remarkable for their ease of purchasing) and Google (they are innovative in both helping people search for information and consume the ads/information as a result of a search).

Another approach companies like Progressive and Enterprise Rent-A-Car have used is to innovate around the delivery of products/services and to stake a position on that.  These two examples have not fundamentally changed the solution required to address the core job of protecting yourself from financial loss as a result of an accident or hiring a car to get from point A to point B, respectively.  They just make it much easier to consume auto insurance (through Progressive’s rate comparison process, on-site claims, and concierge service) or to rent a car (through Enterprise’s ubiquity and pick-up service) once a consumer decides that is the solution they need.

As a result of their efforts and market positioning, Progressive has become the fourth largest auto insurance carrier and doubled the number of new policies it has written in the last 3 years and Enterprise, with its iconic wrapped car, is the largest car rental company in North America with over 91% of “local” car rentals going through them.

As a consumer of auto insurance and rental cars, can you see how these companies positioning passes the test of “great” (important to you, superior to other solutions, sustainable in their delivery, clear positioning, and credible marketing claims)?  What other companies can you think of that have also taken this path towards growth?  What do you think is stopping many others from pursuing this?