A Perceptual Map is a way of visualising the competitive battlefield. Two dimensions are identified that are the most important differentiators from the customer perspective. Then each individual competitor is plotted on these dimensions. These dimensions will be different for every type of product, examples could be:
- Cheap to Premium
- Modern to Traditional
- Functional to Lifestyle
When is it useful?
Perceptual mapping is a useful component of industry analysis to record how customers regard competitors in that industry.
Conducted quantitatively, it can provide valuable insights to marketers: Who are my closest competitors? Should I change my positioning? Where are the blank spaces that customers want but are not well served?
How do you do the analysis?
This analysis can be conducted through market research. Conjoint analysis, factor analysis or cluster analysis can be used to determine the dimensions that differentiate best. The dimension are not named in this process – it is upo to the marketers to articulate what these dimensions represent.
The perceptual map can also be created by managers as a way to pool their collective judgements, but this is unlikely to throw up fresh insights.
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How can you adapt this concept?
It is possible to take this concept to a more quantified level, by plotting customer segments on this map and their relative sizes
You can also overlay channels on top of this perceptual map – where do the customers perceive the channel lies on these same dimensions? This can help identify what channel priorities should be for each brand.