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Perceptual mapping

Are you pursuing a degree course in marketing? If yes, then you might get a project on perceptual mapping.

Since it is a trending topic and you are entirely new to the subject, you might not have in-depth knowledge. You have to consult various books, journals or even websites to cover all the aspects of the topic and present it in a structured manner. Sometimes, you lack the time and patience to complete your work.

To ease you out of the problem, we have come up with this blog that will provide you with detailed insight into perceptual mapping. 

What Is A Perceptual Map Or Market Mapping?

A perceptual map is a diagrammatic representation that is mainly used by marketers that depicts how the target customers perceive any given brand or product compared to other competitive brands in the market. The word ‘perceptual’ is derived from ‘perception’ that refers to the customer’s viewpoint about some competing products along with their related attributes.

A perceptual map is mostly presented in two determinant attributes, namely the X and Y-axis, in a graph. However, the formats may vary as per individual requirements.

Types Of Perceptual Mapping

There are three major types of perceptual maps based on some common parameters. Let us first know the parameters and understand them one by one.

  • Price Vs Quality
  • Price Vs Functionality
  • Health Vs Taste
  • Price Vs Performance
  • Safety Vs Price

Two Determinant Attributes

The first and initial format mainly uses two determinant attributes in the graph. The main benefit of opting for this format is the ease of interpreting and constructing. In this type of map, only two product attributes are considered. The following is an example of a perpetual map for soft drinks.

(In this example, 7Up product is perceived to have a moderate level of sugar with relatively low caffeine.)

Multiple product attributes

This is the second feasible approach to market mapping. It requires a statistical tool that is also known as correspondence analysis. A statistical program (mainly known as SPSS) is used to map varied product attributes at the same time with the help of a computer. Check out the example below:

Although this map is a little bit difficult to interpret, it provides a clear overview of how the market perceives and connects the multiple attributes. Usually, this map contains no defined axes. Instead, the numerous product attributes are disseminated all over the map together with the perceived product offerings.

Joint Perceptual Maps

Sometimes, a perceptual map tends to identify the desired needs of different market segments based on similar attributes. These maps are occasionally referred to as joint perpetual maps as the anticipated brand positioning is represented jointly within the segment. The additional market segment requirements placed on the diagram helps the firm to identify their position relative to their particular target competitors. Below is an example showing gender and age demographic segments.

How To Build Up Perceptual Maps? A Step-By-Step Guide

For ease of understanding, let us begin with the example of breakfast cereal.

Step 1: Choosing the Determinants Attributes

The Determinant Attributes are the variables that customers consider while purchasing the cereal. Consumers will always prioritize these attributes as it will help them to compare the offerings with other brands available in the market.

It is essential to keep in mind that the best determinant attributes will vary depending upon the individual area of interest. Remember, in this example, only health and taste are the determinant variables.

Step 2: Conducting a Survey

In order to work effectively, it is important to have a set of relevant data. This is possible by conducting a survey and addressing a group of people. Conducting a survey is simple and helps to get the mapping done faster. In this case, there can be questions that address the nutritional values and taste of the cereals offered by other competitors.

Step 3: Ranking the Brands Accordingly

After the survey, now it is time to rank the response data. At this stage, it is important to note how the respondents have segregated the cereals offered by other competitors. Mostly, it will be in the form of qualitative data from some open-ended questions in the survey. While considering the respective determinant attributes of health and taste, there should be a comprehensive score for each brand. The marks represent how a customer feels about a particular brand offering.

Step 4: Designing the Perceptual Map

Once the rating is done, it is time to create a perpetual map and plot the brands in their respective order. The X-axis will represent the nutritional content, and the Y-axis will indicate the taste. Upon completion of the successful plotting of the brands in accordance with the consumer perspective, the perceptual map will be ready.

Perceptual Mapping: An Asset For Marketers

We all know there is a power to pictures, and that is the key factor that makes perceptual mapping a useful tool for marketers. It helps to create a summary of all the relevant information and can be used as a high-value tool to unveil insights about the marketplace and the participants. It provides the company's direction and raises discussions on strategic alignments.

Here are the top 3 ways in which perceptual mapping can be an asset to any marketer.

  • Unveiling insights about the industry and the competitors
  • Unfolding where the brand is headed
  • Ensuring proper alignment with the business and brand strategy

In short, perceptual mapping can be an efficient tool for marketers (if implemented properly). Often, marketers overlook the benefits and fail to derive the benefits. 

How Can Perceptual Mapping Take A Business To A New Level?

In this ever-growing world, marketers need to cope up with the changing dynamics of the marketplace in order to keep pace with their competitors. If they fail to understand the customer’s perception, the business won’t expand and become sluggish.

As an entrepreneur, it is essential to use a few marketing tools in order to survive in this competitive environment. This is best possible with perpetual maps. It provides marketers with a glance into the competitive landscape while considering the customer’s requirements. 

What Are The Major Limitations Of Perceptual Mapping?

Despite offering multiple benefits to marketers, perceptual mapping has a few drawbacks as well. Let us check out below:

  • The maps often streamline the consumer’s purchase decision down to two product attributes only.
  • Perpetual maps are beneficial for low budget purchase decisions.
  • They are centred on individual brands and are less helpful in the case of corporate brands.
  • Sometimes, it becomes too difficult to obtain data via surveys.
  • The consumer’s perception varies with product benefits and reality.

Barring these few constraints, perceptual maps can turn out to be a significant tool in brand positioning. It can assist in monitoring the performance of competitive brands and their changing market position. 

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