Why Use a Perceptual Map?

Perceptual Maps are an Important Marketing Tool

Perceptual maps are often used in marketing to help understand:

  • positioning of your brands and products as perceived by CONSUMERS
  • target market needs and preferences
  • key competitors in the marketplace
  • how your positioning is evolving over time
  • how to best position your brand to succeed against competitors
  • to identify gaps and opportunities in the marketplace
  • see this article for more benefits of using perceptual maps

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.

Easy to Understand, Surprisingly Timely on Excel

While the concept of a perceptual map may be relatively straightforward, I have found that students often have some difficulty in being able to produce a suitable chart using an Excel spreadsheet. Excel certainly has the capacity to create a perceptual map (using either a bubble chart or a scatter chart format), but the user requires a reasonable level of expertise to produce the perceptual map successfully. Much of this issue relates to the ability to plot the series name (the brand name) onto the map itself, due the inherent structure of the data in Excel charts.

Free Excel Template to Make Perceptual Maps Easy

Therefore, I have developed an easy to use Excel spreadsheet that you can download for free. You simply need to enter your attributes, brands and data into the cells and your perceptual map is automatically created for you to copy and paste into your reports. You can map up to 25 brands at the one time.

Check out this video on how to use this free mapping template:

netflix perceptual map

Check out the Examples of Maps

There are also lots of examples included on this website. You will find them on almost every page including:

Other Types of Perceptual Maps?

As mentioned above, in most introductory marketing textbooks you will find the straightforward two-axis perceptual map, which uses two attributes to map positioning.

This design provides an excellent approach to help understand and visualize the concept of brand and/or product positioning. And it is also frequently used in real-life business analysis. It is particularly useful as a quick and simple communication tool internally.

However, there are several other useful formats for perceptual maps. These maps are discussed on their own pages – just follow the links below – and keep in mind that all of the perceptual maps shown on this website can be easily made within minutes by using their own free Excel spreadsheet template – just follow the easy how-to guide and why to use guide.

And don’t forget, if you get stuck for ideas for the attributes for the axis labels, there is a page for that too.

Overall Similarities (OS) Perceptual Map

Another type of a perceptual map is known as an overall similarities perceptual map. This map is constructed quite differently as consumers are asked how similar brands/products are – that is, on a scale (quite similar, somewhat similar and so on). You may come across this perceptual map in some more advanced marketing subjects.

This website also has information and a template for Overall Similarities (OS) Perceptual Maps.

External Reading

What Do Customers Really Think of Your Brand? Find Out With Perceptual Mapping