Benefits of Perceptual Maps

Why You Should Use Perceptual Maps for Marketing

Typically, in a marketing textbook, the topic of perceptual maps is covered (often too quickly) in the chapter on market segmentation, target marketing and positioning. It is presented as a method of visually mapping how consumers perceive the positioning of competing brands, and generally using a two-axis scatter-chart of two determinant attributes.

In this article were are going to walk through the benefits of using a perceptual map. And why you should be using perceptual maps in your marketing – here’s the quick list:

  • A Reality Check
  • Setting Positioning Strategy
  • Monitor Key Competitors
  • Gain Market Insights
  • View by Market Segment = To help us better understand market segments
  • Identify Direct and Indirect Competitors
  • Identify New Players and Their Impact
  • Find Gaps and Opportunities

What are the benefits and limitations of using perceptual maps? Please review the video or scroll down for the full article.

Key Benefits of Using a Perceptual Map

1 = A Reality Check

The first benefit is that perceptual maps provide an excellent reality check for marketers and management.

As marketers, we get so close to our brands, and we often think how we understand and feel about our brands is how consumers see them.

And while that may be true for some very loyal and heavy usage customers, the reality is that most people treat our brand with a degree of indifference.

This means that we need to use perceptual mapping and go out to the marketplace and see how those consumers really think, rather than imposing our view on how we think they should be thinking.

2 = Setting Positioning Strategy

Clearly, as brand positioning is all about being distinctive and occupying a particular spot in a consumer’s mind – these means that it is important in marketing and a critical a part of our success.

By mapping our and competitive positions onto a perceptual map, it helps us set our branding strategy.

This is because we can see where we are, where our competitors are, where different segments see our brand, and what we need to do.

All this information is needed for how we need to position, or perhaps reposition. It also tells us when we need to strengthen and defend our position, and when we need to become more distinctive.

3 = Monitor Key Competitors

Perceptual maps are ideal in helping us monitor our brand and competitive brands over time.

In this case we would use a series of perceptual maps that are time-based. In that way, we can say, “Hey, here was the market two years ago, that was perceptions a year ago, and then today.”

And we can see what’s happening with our brands, what’s happening with competitors, and we can see how positioning is evolving.

4 = Gain Market Insights

Perceptual maps will be able to generate a whole bunch of market insights, including:

  • The understanding the real (not management’s view) positioning of products or brands within a market
  • Insights into consumer product preferences = what are they looking for ideally
  • Comparing current brand position to desired position = strategy setting
  • Finding the distinctiveness of a brand and whether that needs to be improved
  • Track positioning strategy success (or otherwise)
  • The effectiveness of marketing and branding efforts
  • The impact of new product launches
  • The impact of changes made to marketing mix variables (which underpin positioning)

5 = View by Market Segment

We can look at perceptual maps and image data by segment. In fact, one of the mistakes used in perceptual maps is simply looking at the overall market and looking at the average consumer.

That’s because the average perception of all consumers doesn’t take into account different viewpoints of different segments.

So if we use perceptual maps effectively and look at how different segments perceive our brand and how they perceive our competitors we will garner a lot more information.

And what you will find is that different market segments will have different perceptions and have different concepts of our brand. Mapping perceptions at segment level provides very important and insight information.

6 = Identify Direct and Indirect Competitors

Perceptual maps are a handy tool that allow us to identify direct and indirect competitors.

In marketing we often get too focused on two or three players that we’re always watching. We may spend too much time on key and direct competitors and forget about the indirect or the less threatening type competitors.

In this way, perceptual maps can help us keep track of all the relevant players, and even we can assess substitute and indirect competitors to see how they are being perceived and how they may be impacting our brand and its potential.

7 = Identify New Players and Their Impact

In addition to existing competitors, perceptual maps can also identify the impact of new players.

New players are often very interesting because they are new entrants, and they’re coming into an established market with a different mindset.

They are starting from scratch, they’ve got a blank sheet, so how are they seeing the market? What are they doing?

They’ve entered the market because there are opportunities, so what market opportunities are they chasing? What are they going after? Often new players give you a fresh perspective of what’s going on and how the marketplaces is evolving. 

8 = Find Gaps and Opportunities

And finally, from a product perspective, it is often helpful for finding gaps and opportunities.

Where are the positioning gaps? What products may fill those gaps? Which gaps have competitors moved into or away from? Where are the growth opportunities in the market?

For some reason, gaps and opportunities are often listed as the only purpose of perceptual maps – yet we have seen in this article that they are one of many valuable inputs into the marketing process.

That’s why I have placed gaps and opportunities at the end of this list. This is not to prioritize the list, but to highlight the more effective uses of perceptual maps for marketers

The Wrap-Up on Perceptual Maps and Their Benefits

In conclusion, perceptual maps are valuable tools for understanding market positioning and consumer preferences.

However, it is essential to use a combination of perceptual mapping techniques to fully grasp the complexity of the market, particularly for high involvement products. By doing so, marketers can make more informed decisions and create more effective strategies that cater to their target segments, while also differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Quick Summary: Benefits of Perceptual Maps

  • To help us better understand market segments
  • To see how the target market really perceives the brands in the marketplace
  • To evaluate the performance of recent marketing campaigns and other marketing mix changes
  • To confirm whether how consumers perceive us fits with our positioning goals
  • To check that our brand has a clear positioning space in the market
  • To track how successfully our new products have been positioned into the market
  • To monitor competitive brands and their changing market position
  • To help our organization identify gaps in the market
  • To monitor changes in consumer preferences over time

Quick Summary: Limitations of Perceptual Maps

  • Perceptual maps often simplify the consumer’s purchase decision down to two product attributes
  • They tend to be more beneficial for low-involvement purchase decisions
  • They are more relevant for individual brands, and less helpful for corporate brand image
  • The data is often difficult or expensive to obtain (via marketing research)
  • There is a often difference between consumer’s perception of the brand’s benefits versus reality

Benefits of Perceptual Maps FAQ

What is a perceptual map?

A perceptual map is a visual representation of how consumers perceive brands or product categories in the marketplace. It helps marketers understand consumer preferences and positioning of products, identify competitors, and find gaps and opportunities.

Get the free mapping template: Free Download of the Perceptual Map Template

How can perceptual maps provide a reality check for marketers?

Perceptual maps offer an unbiased view of how consumers perceive brands, helping marketers avoid imposing their own views and assumptions on the market. This helps them better understand consumer preferences and how their brand is perceived in reality.

Further reading: Perception is Reality

How do perceptual maps help in setting positioning strategy?

Perceptual maps help marketers see where their brand stands in the marketplace compared to competitors and how different segments perceive their brand. This information is essential for developing a distinctive brand positioning strategy or repositioning an existing one.

Further reading: Positioning Strategy

How can perceptual maps help monitor key competitors?

Perceptual maps can be created over time to track changes in the market and monitor the positioning of both the brand and its competitors. This allows marketers to observe shifts in positioning and respond accordingly.

How can perceptual maps be used to gain market insights?

Perceptual maps can provide insights into real positioning, consumer product preferences, brand distinctiveness, the effectiveness of marketing efforts, the impact of new product launches, and changes in marketing mix variables.

Check out: Top 12 Tips for Analyzing Perceptual Maps

How can perceptual maps be used to identify new players and their impact?

Perceptual maps can reveal the presence and impact of new entrants in the market, offering insight into their strategies, the opportunities they are pursuing, and how they are changing the competitive landscape.

How can perceptual maps help in finding gaps and opportunities?

Perceptual maps can help marketers identify positioning gaps and growth opportunities in the market by visualizing where products and brands are positioned in relation to consumer preferences.

Are there any limitations to using perceptual maps?

Perceptual maps may not capture the full complexity of the market, particularly for high-involvement products. It is essential to use a combination of perceptual mapping techniques to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the market.

Please review: Limitations of Perceptual Maps

Why should marketers use perceptual maps?

Perceptual maps are valuable tools for understanding market positioning and consumer preferences. They help marketers make more informed decisions and create effective strategies that cater to their target segments while differentiating themselves from competitors.

External Reading

Related Information

Perceptual Maps 4 Marketing

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