Brand Strategy: Repositioning A Competitor

Jack TroutMay 2, 20122 min

There are times, though rare, that a repositioning the competition strategy is not to hang a negative on them, but simply to put your lead competitor in its place—or, shall I say, in second place? This was the case in a project we did for the producers of Spanish olive oil.

Few people know that Spain is truly the dominant producer of olive oil. It generally produces more  than half the world’s olive oil. Italy, the number two producer, has only half Spain’s production. In fact, Spain outproduces all other countries combined.

But there is a big problem: while Spain is the dominant leader in olive oil production, many people perceive Italy as the king. Because of that, Spain makes most of the oil, while Italian companies make most of the money with their olive oil brands. How do they do it? They buy their olive oil from Spain, put it in their cans and bottles, and ship it off as Italian olive oil. What should Spain do? That was a question we were asked by the Spanish producers. Our answer came in three steps.

Step 1 was to clearly reposition Spain as “the world’s number one producer of olive oil.” This little-known fact had to be put into the minds of the customers and prospects for olive oil. Spain’s production credentials were an important part  of the message. Outproducing all competitors combined is a great story. But Italy was already in people’s minds, so a way had to be found to reposition it as a producer that used Spanish olive oil.

Step 2 dramatized this message by borrowing a historical fact. We suggested that Spain produce advertising that stated the following:

Two thousand years ago the Romans were our best customers. Today, they still are.

The point this message makes is that the Italians have always recognized good olive oil when they tasted it. Since Italy is known for its cooking, this is a very meaingful idea. But there was one other  problem.

Step 3 was that of identification. If people were to look for Spanish olive oil, how were they to find it? So we developed  a symbol or seal that enabled customers to identify oil from Spain. It was a simple seal that said, “100% olive oil from Spain.” This seal was to be put on every can and bottle of pure Spanish olive oil.

This turned out to be the Avis number two program in reverse, as we repositioned Italy where it belonged: in second place.

Excerpted from my book REPOSITIONING: Marketing In An Era of Competition, Change, And Crisis — Jack Trout with Steve Rivkin (c) 2010 by McGraw-Hill

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