What is a brand perceptual map?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - brand perceptual map

A brand perceptual map, which is also called a brand  positioning map, is a visual representation of how consumers perceive your brand in the form of a graph.  This graph is designed so that digital marketers understand the average responses of the target market about their own brand, along with all the competitors. In short, a brand perceptual chart helps the marketer to “map” the consumer’s perception and their brand’s influence on the target market.

A perceptual map is plotted making use of the nearest competitors, or the brands that are important to consumers currently, as well as their attributes along the X and Y axes. It gives a complete visual summary of the brands, their current positioning and also explains their relative position considering how consumers favour their attributes.

Why companies use brand perceptual maps

Companies use perceptual or positioning maps in order to help them develop a market positioning strategy for their product or service. As the maps are based on a perception of the buyer they are sometimes called perceptual maps. Positioning maps show where current products as well as services are positioned in the market so that the firm can make a decision on where they would like to position their product.

Companies have two options:

  • They can either position their product so that it fills a gap in the market, or
  • If they would like to compete with their competitors they can position it where existing products have placed their product.

What are the Attributes of a Brand Perceptual Map?

Typically, a simple brand perceptual map is a two-dimensional graph with a vertical and horizontal axis. Each axis has a couple of opposite attributes at either end of the axis. For instance, if the map is looking at cars, the vertical axis may have a luxury car at one end as well as an economy car at the other end; the horizontal axis may have “family-oriented” at one end and “sporty” at the other end. Each car is then drawn on graph based on how consumers understand the car relative to those attributes.

Brand perceptual maps can have more than two dimensions in order to let a business compare more than two pairs of attributes. Making use of more than two dimensions for a perceptual map is also called multidimensional scaling. Although these maps can become quite complex and hard to understand, they can also potentially provide more useful information.

What a brand perceptual map allows

Brand perceptual maps assist marketers to understand where the consumer ranks their company in terms of characteristics as well as in comparison to competing companies. Perceptual maps can show consumers’ ideal points which reflect their ideal combinations of product characteristics.

When designing a new product, an organisation should look for a space which is currently unoccupied by competitors and that has high levels of consumer desire (ideal points). A perceptual map is often based on more of a marketer’s knowledge of an industry as opposed to market research.

Why use Brand Perceptual Maps?

Here are several reasons why you need to be using brand perceptual maps. Here are some of them:

  • Check reality of consumer’s perceptions
  • Impact of the firm’s campaigns and marketing mix changes
  • Monitor the positioning of new products
  • Monitor the impact competitive positioning
  • Look for market gaps – for the new product process
  • Understand segments further Track changes in consumer preferences

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