Study Notes for Perceptual Maps

What is a perceptual map?

A perceptual map is of the visual technique designed to show how the average target market consumer understands the positioning of the competing products in the marketplace.

The following chart is an example of a perceptual map.

example perceptual map 1 for retailers

Key Features of Perceptual Maps

Visual Representation

Perceptual maps are typically two-dimensional graphs where products or brands are plotted. Each axis represents a specific attribute that is important to the consumer, such as price, quality, luxury, functionality, or any other relevant characteristic.

Consumer Perception Focus

The positioning of each product on the map is based on consumer perceptions, not on objective data. This reflects how consumers see the product, which may or may not align with the brand’s intended positioning.

Competitive Analysis

By placing multiple products on the same map, perceptual maps allow for a direct comparison of how each product stacks up against others in the eyes of the consumer. This can highlight competitive strengths and weaknesses.

Market Gap Identification

Perceptual maps can reveal gaps in the market, showing areas where consumer needs are not being fully met by current products. This can be a valuable insight for product development and innovation.

Strategic Planning

Brands use perceptual maps to inform strategic decisions such as repositioning strategies, identifying potential new markets, or adjusting marketing messages to better align with consumer perceptions.

Creating a Perceptual Map

Identify Key Attributes

Determine the attributes that are most important to the target market. These could vary widely depending on the industry and the specific consumer base.

Research Consumer Perceptions

Gather data on how consumers perceive each brand or product in relation to the chosen attributes. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or analyzing market research data.

Plot the Map

Use the gathered data to plot each product or brand on the map according to how they score on the selected attributes. The relative position of each item provides insights into how they are perceived in the marketplace.

Analyze and Interpret

Examine the resulting map for insights into market dynamics, competitive positioning, and potential areas for strategic action.

Applications of Perceptual Maps

Marketing Strategy

  • To refine positioning strategies and tailor marketing messages that resonate with the target audience.

Product Development

  • To identify unmet needs in the market and develop new products or improve existing ones.

Market Segmentation

  • To identify different segments within the market and understand their specific needs and preferences.

Brand Management

  • To monitor and manage the brand’s position in the market over time, ensuring it remains relevant and competitive.

What are the Main Types of Perceptual Maps?

Perceptual maps come in various forms, each serving a specific purpose depending on the marketing objectives and the nature of the data. Here are the main types of perceptual maps commonly used in marketing:

Two-Dimensional Perceptual Maps

  • These are the most common and straightforward type.
  • The map typically has two axes, each representing a different attribute that is important to the consumer (e.g., price vs. quality).
  •  Products or brands are plotted based on their perceived position regarding these two attributes.

Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) Maps

  • MDS maps are more complex and are used when more than two attributes are important.
  • They involve statistical techniques to distill multiple attributes into a two-dimensional space.
  • MDS maps are useful for capturing a more nuanced view of the market but require more sophisticated data analysis.

Attribute Rating Maps

  • These maps are based on ratings of specific attributes for each brand or product.
  • Each product is plotted based on its average rating for each attribute.
  • This type is useful for directly comparing products based on specific features or qualities.

Preference Maps

  • Preference maps incorporate consumer preferences into the perceptual map.
  • They are based on data about consumers’ preferred choices or ideal points.
  • These maps can show how closely each product aligns with the ideal product in the minds of consumers.

Importance-Performance Analysis Maps

  • These maps plot the importance of an attribute against the performance of a product on that attribute.
  • They are particularly useful for identifying areas where improvements are necessary and where resources should be allocated for maximum impact.

Competitor Maps

  • Competitor maps focus on the positioning of different competitors in the market.
  • They can be based on various attributes such as price, quality, market share, brand perception, etc.
  • These maps are crucial for strategic planning and competitive analysis.

Evolutionary Maps

  • Evolutionary maps track changes in perception over time.
  • They are useful for analyzing trends and predicting future market movements.
  • These maps can show how a product’s position evolves due to changes in marketing strategy, consumer preferences, or competitive dynamics.

Each type of perceptual map offers unique insights and can be tailored to specific strategic objectives. The choice of map depends on the complexity of the market, the number of attributes important to consumers, the nature of the competition, and the specific goals of the analysis.

What are determinant attributes?

Determinant attributes are the attributes a consumer uses when they are determining their choice between competitive offerings – they are the most important and are used to distinguish between offerings.

Why use perceptual maps?

  • Check reality of consumer’s perceptions
  • Impact of the firm’s campaigns and marketing mix changes
  • Monitor the positioning of new products
  • Monitor the impact competitive positioning
  • Look for market gaps – for the new product process
  • Understand segments further
  • Track changes in consumer preferences

What is meant by “perception is reality”?

This means that the firm needs to consider how consumers actually perceive the positioning of different products, rather than a technical or objective assessment of the product.

Video on How to Use and Read a Perceptual Map

External Reading and Links

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