How WhatsApp is transforming its position from the leader to a ‘me-too’ brand

WhatsApp was incorporated in 2009, by Brian Acton and Jan Koum. It rapidly became one of the most successful and widely used app and marked itself as the leader of instant messaging industry. One of the reason for Whatsapp’s success was the company’s innovative idea providing solution to customers problems. The founders of Whatsapp filled the hole in the market where customers were rapidly getting connected to internet and friends by providing simple, fast and cost effective platform. Many instant messaging app tried to beat WhatsApp but couldn’t as it was the FIRST and at the highest place on the ladder of consumers mind, the concept explained by Jack Trout and Al Ries in their book – Positioning:The Battle of Your Mind.

It is necessary for a new firm to be the FIRST in the market (unless they have extraordinary competitive advantage), be INNOVATIVE and provide service that they are meant for and are expected by customers. While WhatsApp HAD all these features and therefore was the leader in their segment. However, Whatsapp has moved itself from the position of leader to a ‘me too’ brand with their new update where users can share their instant snap stories as ‘status’ (terminating the old method of posting textual status, which users however loved!) . The problem is consumers are largely conscious of similar features provided by Snapchat and Instagram and they (consumers) were not expecting Whatsapp to be one of those service provider. Though Instant snap sharing possess great future, customers just want Whatsapp to help them be connected with peers through chat messages and not snap stories called ‘status’. Customers dissatisfaction was witnessed on Playstore and App store with disapproving reviews about the new update.

Consumers are widely using Snapchat- the leader and innovator in the instant snap sharing segment. The reason Snapchat is the leader in this segment is because they were the first and innovative in their market exactly like Whatsapp was in their segment. No other instant messaging app successfully replaced Whatsapp out of the consumers mind nor will any instant photo sharing app shall replace Snapchat from consumers mind as being the leading photo sharing app. Ultimately what matters most is the customer’s perception about a company and its products. Every firm must build and improve upon their position in their customer’s mind.

Whatsapp can loose it’s ‘first’ and ‘innovative’ position in consumers mind to ‘imitative’ and ‘me-too’ brand. Playing with consumers perception is the most dangerous mistake a firm can make. As Gustave Flaubert once said,” There is no truth. There is only perception”. It is crucial for companies to develop positive perception of themselves in consumers mind and to consistently maintain it. How Facebook, parent company of Whatsapp, will maintain customers confidence would be an interesting thing to track and that’s what we do!




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