Choosing PODs and POPs


Points-of-difference (PODs) are attributes or benefits that consumers strongly associate with a brand, positively evaluate, and believe they could not find to the same extent with a
competitive brand. Associations that make up points-of-difference may be based on virtually any type of attribute or benefit. Strong brands may have multiple points-of difference. Some examples are Apple (design, ease-of-use, and irreverent attitude), Nike (performance,
innovative technology, and winning) etc.

Three criteria determine whether a brand association can truly function as a point-of-
difference— desirability, deliverability, and differentiability. Some key considerations follow.
Desirable to consumer - Consumers must see the brand association as personally relevant
to them. For Example, Yippee noodles marketing themselves as the non-sticky noodles. Here,
non-stickiness doesn’t seem to be desirable to the consumers because they are more
concerned with overall taste of the noodle.
Deliverable by the company - The company must have the internal resources and
commitment to feasibly and profitably create and maintain the brand association in the minds
of consumers. The product design and marketing offering must support the desired
association. Best example here would be of Apple iPhone. The company starts creating hype
of the product much before the product release and as usual company always stands on
customers expectation which makes it to be the no.1 company in the world.
Differentiating from competitors - Finally, consumers must see the brand association as
distinctive and superior to relevant competitors

Points-of-parity (POPs), on the other hand, are attribute or benefit associations that are not
necessarily unique to the brand but may in fact be shared with other brands. These types of
associations come in two basic forms: category and competitive.
Category points-of-parity are attributes or benefits that consumers view as essential to a
legitimate and credible offering within a certain product or service category. In other words,
they represent necessary—but not enough conditions for brand choice.
Category points-of parity - may change over time due to technological advances, legal
developments, or consumer trends, but to use a golfing analogy, they are the “greens fees”
necessary to play the marketing game. Competitive points-of-parity are associations designed
to overcome perceived weaknesses of the brand. A competitive point-of-parity may be
required to either

(1) negate competitors’ perceived points-of-difference or

(2) negate a perceived vulnerability of the brand as a result of its own points-of-difference.
For an offering to achieve a point-of-parity on a attribute or benefit, a sufficient number of
consumers must believe the brand is “good enough” on that dimension. There is a zone or
range of tolerance or acceptance with points-of-parity. The brand does not literally need to be
equal to competitors, but consumers must feel it does well enough on that attribute or benefit.
If they do, they may be willing to base their evaluations and decisions on other factors
potentially more favourable to the brand. A light beer presumably would never taste as good
as a full-strength beer, but it would need to taste close enough to be able to effectively