Perceptual Mapping to Understand Customer Perceptions

Perceptual mapping


Most of the companies don’t think about what customers really feel about their products and services. For example – you should check if the customers think your products as luxury items or budget items. You should know if they see the items as stylish or novelty. No matter how well you think you know about your customers, you will be surprised with the answers provided by the customers. It is important to understand how the customers see your products and services, and how they view the products and services of your competitor. This will directly have an impact on how you are going to market your products.

In this article, we will discuss about perceptual mapping, which is a simple tool that helps you understand how your customers view your products and services, compared to that of your competitors.

Definition of Perceptual Mapping

Perceptual mapping is also known as positioning mapping, and helps companies to analyze how your target market perceives your products and services. One can trace perceptual mapping on a graph with horizontal and vertical axes that represent the dimensions to analyze. Each criterion is labelled based on the requirement of the consumer.

For example – if your organization sells breakfast related products, then you should know how your customers perceive your product as well as your competitor’s products. The customers may consider the health and fun dimensions to make their purchase decision. To explore this, you should label the left side of x-axis as ‘unhealthy’ and right side of x-axis as ‘healthy’. Similarly, the top of the y-axis should be labelled ‘fun’ and the bottom should be labelled ‘boring’. Plot the graph of your product and your competitor’s product based on the answers provided by your customer.

Types of Perceptual Mapping

Basically, there are 3 main formats of presenting perceptual mapping, which are described as below –

1. Joint perceptual maps

Perceptual map is also defined as map that maps the preferred needs of different market segments based on same attributes. This kind of map is referred as joint perceptual maps, where the product positioning is presented with the needs of the segment. The addition of market segment that are being placed on perceptual map allows the organization to identify how well they are positioned relative to their target markets.

2. Multiple product attributes maps

This kind of perceptual mapping is a statistical technique known as correspondence analysis. Companies can make use of statistical analysis tool such as SPSS to map multiple product attributes at the same time. This type of mapping is difficult to interpret and is a bit confusing, but is capable of providing an overview of how the target market views and connects different attributes. There is no defined axis in this kind of mapping, where the different product attributes are scattered throughout the map along with perceived positioning of the products.

3. Determinant attributes

This kind of perceptual mapping uses two determinant attributes on the graph. This kind of presentation format is very simple to construct and interpret. Remember that there are only two attributes to consider.

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How to Draw Perceptual Mapping

Companies make use of perceptual mapping or positioning maps to help them develop a market strategy for their products and services. As the maps are based on perception of the buyer, they show where the products are positioned in the market so that the firm can decide where they would like to place their product. Companies can either position their product in market in such a way that they fill the gaps in the market or they compete against the competitor.

Theoretically, perceptual map can have multiple numbers of lines to keep things. But, to keep things simple and easy, they have 2 lines on x-axis and y-axis. Any criteria can be used to plot graph on x-axis and y-axis. Once the 2 lines are drawn, the existing products will be placed on the map. Perceptual can help you identify where the organization can position their new product or service in the market. It will also help you identify gap in low quality and high price. Remember that consumers are not going to pay high for a low quality product. Similarly, if the graph shows low price and high quality, the manufacturers find it difficult to manufacture high quality product for cheap price.

Benefits of Perceptual Mapping

Companies make use of perceptual maps to know what consumers think about their products and their competitor’s products. It helps companies to show their business in a position in market relative to their competitor. In addition to identifying new products, one can use the information to build an effective competitive strategy, brand strategy and communication strategy. To make the perceptual maps more useful, each axis should measure the attributes that consumers use in making the purchase decision.

This can be said as the best way for companies to find how their potential customers view their products and services as. It is truly based on the surveys conducted to know about the brand preferred by customers. To obtain most useful information, researchers need to present the attributes clearly and accurately in such a way that the consumers are rating only the intended attributes and nothing else.


The bottom line is that perceptual maps are based on the perception of the buyer and is quite challenging. It can be said as what one consumer views the product as quality product may not be viewed as quality product by another consumer. Perceptual mapping help organizations understand how customers view their products/services and is very subjective.

Companies need to ensure that the data that they use to plot the map is accurate. If the data is inaccurate, the map will be wrong and will have a string effect on the success of a marketing strategy. Perceptual maps help organizations identify possible gaps in the market. Before you choose to fill the gaps in the market, you need to ensure that there is likely to be a demand for the product you are going to position in the market.

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