How to Make a Perceptual Map in Excel 365

Perceptual maps are powerful, yet simple, tools to demonstrate the competitive positioning of brands and companies. The most commonly used type of perceptual map is a two-axis map, which is usually presented using either Excel’s bubble chart or scatterplot chart.

Unfortunately, while charts in Excel are normally quite straightforward, the formatting of a perceptual map requires somewhat of a manual set up. Below are the instructions for presenting a perceptual map in Excel, using Office 365.

What are we trying to do?

We want to turn this table of consumer perceptual data into this perceptual map, as shown here:

how to make a perceptual map in 365

Video Overview

Here is the video of how to make a perceptual map in Excel 365 – or scroll down for the written steps and images.

Overview of the Key Steps

We will now cover the five main steps in the formatting of a perceptual map, as follows:

  1. Preparing your data
  2. Inserting your chart
  3. Adding data to your chart
  4. Checking your chart’s data
  5. Formatting your chart

Step 1 = Preparing your data

Perceptual map data needs to be in a consistent scale. Typically, the data is obtained from a customer image/perception survey, where the customer is asked to rate brands against specific attributes on a numeric or a agree/disagree scale. Therefore, in most cases, the data is already in a suitable format – but please ensure that the same scale is used for each attribute.

If you intend to have the circles (on a bubble chart) to be different sizes, you will also need to add a column for the circle size. In Excel, circle sizes are relative to each other, so the larger the differences here, the larger the differences in the final circles.

Looking at the below table, you can see that the data is effectively presented using a 1-9 scale. There is a list of the brands/firms, along with the two attributes for the map and their scores, and the circle size required for each brand.

perceptual map data format
The ideal data preparation for a perceptual map

Step 2 = Inserting your chart

Click on “insert” in the top menu, and then go across and click on the bubble chart icon, as shown in the following image.

insert bubble chart

Then click on the bubble chart, as shown in the following image, but you can also use a scatter chart if required. Please note that a BLANK chart will be inserted into your spreadsheet, so don’t worry as we will add data to it in the next step.

Step 3 = Adding data to your chart

At this stage we now have a blank chart and need to insert the data. To do this, we click on the chart itself and it will bring up new options in the top menu of Excel, including Chart Design and Format.

We then click on Chart Design, and then click on Select Data, as shown below:

We will then select Add in the pop-up box that will the open, as shown here:

After we select Add, another pop-up box will open, and the following image shows the four pieces of data that we have and where that data will be inserted into the pop-up box.

In this case, the brand name is the series name, the first attribute is series X and the second attribute is series Y, and the circle size is simply the bubble size.

We simply click on each of the four boxes and select the appropriate spreadsheet cell – the pop-up box will display the values that we have entered on the right, as shown below:

After we click OK, we then continue adding new series until all our brands and data have been entered.

At this stage, we will now have an unformatted perceptual map, looking similar to this first-cut map:

Step 4 = Checking your chart’s data

Now is a good time to check that the data for the chart has been constructed and selected correctly. To do this you simply pop your mouse over each of the bubbles/circles and the four pieces of information for that bubble will be displayed automatically and you can quickly check against your data table to ensure that you have not accidentally selected the wrong cell in the prior step.

Step 5 = Formatting your perceptual map

We then click on the map/chart and a large plus button will appear next to the top right-hand corner of the chart. When we click on this plus button, a new menu will open, which we will use to format out perceptual map.

Chart Title

After clicking the plus button, select Chart Title – and a chart title will appear above your map, which you can click on and suitably rename.

Axes

After clicking the plus button, scroll over Axes and click on the triangle icon to the right, and then select More Options.

You should set the minimum and maximum bounds of the axis to be one more than the scale that you’re using. In this example, we are using a 1-9 scale, so the bounds are set at 0 and 10. However, if you are using a 1-5 scale, then you should set the bounds at 0 and 6.

And you also need to set the vertical axis cross to the middle value. In our case, 5 is the midpoint of our 1-9 scale that we using. You may need to select a different midpoint depending upon the scale that you are using.

We now need to REPEAT this process for the vertical axis as well.

At this stage, will then end up with a perceptual map that currently looks like this:

Then we need to edit the Tick Marks and Labels – at the bottom of this image – and ensure that both are set to None for both the horizontal and the vertical axes.

Remove Gridlines

This is very easy – simply click on the plus button again and uncheck the gridlines box.

Add Data Labels

Click on the plus button and click Data Labels. Numbers will then appear in each circle. Click on any one of the circles and then select the triangle on the right of Data Labels and this menu will appear:


We need to select Series Name only (and uncheck Y values) – and we should also set the Label Position to Center – for all circles/bubbles, by clicking on each one while this menu is open.

Add Attribute Labels

The final step in the formatting of our perceptual map is to add the attribute labels. To add these, we click on the chart first and then insert a text box. In the text box, we type in the name of one end of the attribute (e.g. dull in our example) and position the text box at the appropriate end of the axis. We then repeat for the other three attributes.

And our Perceptual Map is now complete

After following the above steps – our perceptual map is ready to be copied/pasted into our document. To copy, click on the edge of the chart and select copy – but remember to paste it as a PICTURE, as this will protect the formatting of the map.

Get the Free Excel Perceptual Map Template

There is an Excel template that makes perceptual maps automatically, available for free download on this website. Go to the download page.

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