The original work on positioning was consumer marketing oriented, and was not as much focused on the question relative to competitive products as much as it was focused on cutting through the ambient “noise” and establishing a moment of real contact with the intended recipient. In the classic example of Avis claiming “No.2, We Try Harder,” the point was to say something so shocking (it was by the standards of the day) that it cleared space in your brain and made you forget all about who was #1 and not to make some philosophical point about being “hungry” for business.
The growth of high-tech marketing may have had much to do with the shift in definition towards competitive positioning. An important component of hi-tech marketing in the age of the world wide web is positioning in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, which can be accomplished through Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO. This is an especially important component when attempting to improve competitive positioning among a younger demographic, which tends to be Web oriented in their shopping and purchasing habits as a result of being highly connected and involved in social media in general.