Purpose – This article aims to examine positioning strategies of international and multicultural‐oriented service brands. Design/methodology/approach – Following review of the literature and pilot study, three main populations (executives and experts, companies' marketing communications, and the target group of consumers) were examined. The methodology concerned triangulation research involving face‐to‐face long interviews, secondary data, content analysis and mail survey. Findings – The paper highlights that while no single positioning strategy is significant across the four card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners Club), “the brand name” positioning strategy appears to be the most preferred among Visa, MasterCard and Amex and not Diners Club. The findings also show that “top of the range” positioning strategy is favored among Amex and Diners Club card brands. However, “country of origin” positioning strategy is incompatible within the study setting. Research limitations/implications – Apart from the low response rate from survey of the general public, another limitation of this study is the concentration on a single sector of the services industry. The latter poses difficulties for generalization across all service brands. Practical implications – Service managers now have an insight into the positioning activities of the plastic card brand sector. These serve as building blocks and benchmarks for appreciating and operationalizing the concept of positioning – a research issue that is missing in the extant literature. Originality/value – This study is a step forward in the operationalization of the concept of positioning. The research also provides diagnosis of the congruence between management's presumed positioning strategies, firm's actual positioning practices and target group's perceptions of the positioning strategies. Without such knowledge, managers cannot expect to choose the best competitive options to defend or enhance their positions in the market place.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 18, 2007
Keywords: Product positioning; Credit cards; Research methods; United Kingdom; Services; Financial services
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