Perceptual Mapping Brings Brand Attributes To Life

Today’s markets are full of options for consumers and with more choices come more ways to choose between similar products. Often consumers are using several different attributes to evaluate and choose between different brands. Without a framework to understand each attribute and how they relate to one another, it’s easy to get lost in the details.

That’s where perceptual mapping becomes an invaluable resource. Perceptual maps help marketers understand where consumers are positioning their business in terms of characteristics and compared to competing companies. It is a graphical representation that explains customer perceptions and allows strategists to show how changes in positioning and priorities can make a difference for a business.

Perceptual maps are useful for any organization that wants to identify market gaps, monitor their own products or search for potential partners or acquisition goals.

Examples of attributes used on a perceptual map model are : price, quality, performance, packaging, size, functionality, safety and reliability.

We think it’s critical that solid research be used to drive the creation of any perceptual map. Using customer research and perceptual mapping, a marketer can create a valuable resource, but if a map is just made from hunches and best-guesses, creating a map is a valueless exercise that can make bad information look more credible than it should.

Data analytics, multiple matching analyses, factor analyses, social media analytics, key component analyses and discriminant analyses can all factor into a good perceptual map.

Frequent readers will know that we are huge fans of segmentation. We think segmentation and perceptual mapping go hand in hand. Perceptual mapping can help define market segments by showing the similarities and differences that exist in perception between different market segments.

This even more refined version of a perceptual map provides increased accuracy and detail by showing how different consumers can see a different ideal combination of product characteristics.

While these maps can be incredibly valuable, they are, artifacts of a specific time. As consumer preferences change and brands change their message and positioning strategies, the perceptual map must also change.