In Marketing class I learned about a man who had a bunch of folding stools to sell. He first positioned them as general-purpose folding stools, but there were no takers. He sold them all when he positioned them as fishing stools.
A well-positioned product connects with a specific market. With a bit of luck, the sale requires minimal targeted advertising and fetches a premium price.
This week I've been in the market for gloves. Not just any gloves, but gloves to protect my hands when I clamber over rocks and ride scree.
I've explored volcanic trails without gloves. After a few days of clambering, the tips of my fingers crack painfully at the cuticles.
REI outdoors equipment store had gloves at various price points. Some were north of $100, but nothing met my need.
After some discussion, two sales associates suggested the $38 leather work gloves. "Built for tough jobs in the outdoors, ... keep your hands warm without giving up dexterity."
I did not want gloves that are too heavy and too hot for subtropical trails.
But I now had the right positioning word: "work."
I drove over to The Home Depot where an associate from Tanzania led me to the work gloves aisle. The selection ranged from $5 to $20.
I thought about the group of hikers I had seen at a trailhead on Japan's Yakushima Island earlier this year. They were putting on gloves of a type I had not seen at REI: regular work gloves.
I left with a $10 pair of "Grease Monkey" work gloves.
Had REI positioned these as "trekking" gloves, the price point could have been nearer $50.
This winter I will be wearing my monkey gloves while actual monkeys go about their business in the forest.