Using a radar chart as a perceptual map

Using a radar chart as a perceptual map is sometimes a very suitable alternative to the traditional the traditional two axis perceptual map.

Generally this approach is NOT discussed in a marketing textbook, where the traditional discussion is on the more basic approach of a perceptual map. Please note that on this website, there are numerous resources for producing perceptual maps and how they should be constructed – please refer to the above menu.

Radar chart and image data

Radar charts look like spiderwebs. They are one of the “other charts” options in an Excel spreadsheet.

If you have positioning/image data that is quite complex will has not been analyzed previously, then a radar chart is a good place to start sorting through the data and is often a better approach than a traditional perceptual map.

image dataTake this summary of positioning/image survey results as an example. As you can see, there are 10 product attributes measured against 14 brands – that’s a total of 140 measures per year, for two years. That’s a lot of data the sort through to get a good sense of how the brands complete and how they are effectively positioned.

This is where radar chart comes in very handy to quickly summarize the data – note that there is a “how to” video at the end of this article to describe how to construct a radar chart.

radar chart perceptual mapThis first radar chart shows all 10 product attributes for the first three brands only . This allows you to quickly compare the brands on all attributes at once, in order to get a sense of where they stand out and how they compete against each other, as well as get a good understanding of what the brand is about.

For instance, you should see that Brand B is a very sweet tasting cookie that offers a wide choice, is considered to be of high quality and is a very trusted brand. This is opposed to Brand A that is a not sweet (savory) product that is reasonably healthy, but is considered to be a little bit old-fashioned.

Showing brand development over time

radar chart and positioningAnother advantage is called a radar chart is that can easily map how a brand is being developed over time and how the consumer’s perception of that product is changing.

This is shown in the second radar chart positioning map, where Brand A’s perceived product attributes and image elements are compared on a year-by-year basis. As you can see this brand has significantly added to its serving size and choices, and is now being seen as more high quality healthier and more of a trusted brand. It is also reversed its old-fashioned image.

Tips for using radar charts: Try not to use more than four or five brands at the one time, otherwise the radar chart becomes far too cluttered and too difficult to read.


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