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On categories: When is a television not a television? September 11, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Positioning.
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Often times the most challenging aspect of positioning is in identifying the category in which you want to compete.  Nobody wants to promote a “me too!” product.  Instead, marketers want to define a category niche that clearly separates them from the other players.

Check out this example offered by RCA, circa 1992.

For the first time, the words "home" and "theatre" were used in the same sentence.

Consider that in 1992 the average TV was in the neighborhood of 20 inches.  The trend towards bigger TVs was starting to emerge, and RCA wanted to differentiate themselves as a leader.  They did so by creating a new category: home theatre.

Those two words had never been used in the same sentence before, yet the consuming public immediately knew what they meant.  The accompanying photo illustrated the value proposition clearly.  We can argue that RCA couldn’t/didn’t hold on to the category and that it eventually became generic.  Nevertheless, a new category for the TV-viewing audience was successfully established.

So, when is a TV not a TV?  When it’s a home theater.


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