Product category marketing is designing a product's marketing strategy based on the category it belongs to ensure it stands out.
Product categories are groupings of products that share similar characteristics, such as toothpaste, winter boots, or dishwashing liquid. These groupings might be product typed-based: toothpaste, winter boots, dishwashing liquid, or they could be interests based: party outfits, hunting gear, or makeup tools.
Products are grouped together in categories in stores (digital and physical) to help consumers easily find the products they need. The challenge for marketers is to figure out how to make their brand stand out in a category so consumers will buy their product.
Product Category Marketing Strategies
To understand what product category marketing strategy to adopt, a brand has to understand two crucial things:
- What overall category of products does it fit into?
- What are the expectations of its target customers?
There are several different product categories, including everyday convenience goods (like hand soap, toothpaste, and dishwashing liquid), shopping goods (clothing, electronics, haircare, and makeup), and specialty goods (fitness watches, cars, and houses). Consumers have different expectations in each category, which means the marketing strategy is different for each category.
A brand needs to research and understand where its product fits in the overall category and then look at consumer expectations for that category. ? For example, hand soap is a convenience item. Consumers are typically loyal to a brand because it's easy to buy and continue buying a particular product. There's no reason to switch. So how does another brand get that consumer's attention and build brand recognition for themselves? In this example, sweepstakes or digital coupons might be enough to make the switch.
The marketing strategy would differ for shopping or specialty goods products. The examples below show how positioning products or the brand as environmentally friendly or inclusive can create brand recognition and win over consumers who believe those values. Loyalty programs are also a good product category marketing strategy that helps build trust and loyalty for one product that can then expand across other products by the brand.
Examples of Product Category Marketing
The Honest Brand
Celebrity Jessica Alba started the Honest brand "to create safe, effective products for our families and yours." It started with Baby products and has since expanded to other product categories. Honest's key product marketing angle is that its products are clean with clear labeling and environmentally friendly (including packaging).
Rihanna's Fenty Beauty brand broke out of the makeup product category by creating inclusive products. Most makeup brands were created for white women first, but Rihanna created products that matched many different skin tones. The brand's product marketing focused on inclusivity and makeup for everyone.
Patagonia sells clothing. But the brand (and the family behind the brand) strongly believes in protecting the environment. So to stand out among all the other clothing retailers, they focus on what's important to their target consumers. As a result, their product marketing approach is less about the product and more about activism and supporting people and organizations that are helping the environment.
Dove struggled to gain brand recognition among all the other body and hair products until it created its "real beauty" product marketing strategy. While other brands were discussing the product and showing perfect body images, Dove chose to appeal to women and young girls by marketing body positivity.