Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brand Positioning: A Battle in the Online Real Estate Industry

Brand positioning refers to how a customer sees your products and/or services relative to the competition. It usually consists of a short statement that articulates the brand's unique value proposition to the customer. Brand positioning is usually one of the most important sections of the marketing plan as it brings focus to the strategy and tactics utilized in the brand's marketing efforts.

It is important to stress that focus is the key to developing the most successful and powerful brands. A brand’s position needs to be unique, believable and capable of evolving over time to reflect changes in the marketplace, new competitors, and new benefits. When it comes to developing your brand's position, you will need to think about how you want your brand to be perceived in the marketplace to create clarity, consistency, and continuity.

A successful brand positioning statement tends to answer four key questions:
  • Who is the target market?
  • What industry/category does the brand compete in?
  • What benefits does the brand provide?
  • Why should the customer trust the brand?

A Quick Case Study: Zillow
Over the past few years, Zillow (zillow.com) has risen to become the leader in the real estate industry to its customers and competitors. As technology – and Zillow's efforts – advanced, the competitors in the industry remained a bit complacent. This allowed Zillow to position themselves as: 
The leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help.
This position clearly defines Zillow's target market (consumers looking for real estate/rentals), defines the industry it competes in (real estate/rental marketplace), describes the benefits it provides (empowering and inspiring consumers), and creates trust by tapping into their emotions to help them find a place they call home.

Zillow's marketing efforts have taken their positioning a step further with emotional marketing by using actual people (non-actors) in their campaigns to strengthen the connection with the customer and differentiate themselves from their main competitor, Realtor.com.

From Youtube, Zillow's Gunnar's Home:

Whatever home means to you, we'll help you find it. Zillow's marketing and brand position focuses on the emotional benefits of purchasing and owning a home. This contrasts with their main competitor, Realtor.com, who are focusing on the "dream" of home ownership and using a recognizable actor (Elizabeth Banks) as their spokesperson.

From Youtube, Realtor.com's Dream Closet

Dream home. Find home. Own home. Realtor.com. They are using a completely different marketing style to position themselves against Zillow to once again become the industry leader. Although the ads may be a bit comical and you see a somewhat familiar face in them, they miss the mark on connecting emotionally with the customer. Here is an interesting article by inman.com that details the positioning battle between Zillow and Realtor.com 

When comparing the two campaigns and the positioning of both brands, do you agree that Zillow has positioned themselves well as the real estate industry leader?