This article explains the theory of perceptual mapping (PERMAP) in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful marketing tool.
What is perceptual mapping?
Perceptual mapping is the graphical technique used by marketeers to visualize the perceptions and opinions of (potential) customers about products, product lines or brands.
The position of the company with respect to the competitor can be represented by using a perceptual mapping. It is also called product positioning mapping.
Perceptual mapping: two dimensions
A perceptual map can be included in any number of dimensions, but the most frequently used are those of the two dimensions: price and quality.
When it is about different cars, perceptual mapping can provide information about the perception of consumers with respect to the dimensions luxury/ average and expensive/ affordable.
According to consumers, cars that are close together in the perceptual mapping are comparable in terms of price and quality. In the US this applies to the brands Buick, Chrysler and Oldsmobile.
In this way, the company will get a clearer picture of the closest competitor and when a new model is going to be introduced, the company will look for an area in the perceptual mapping that is far removed from that of the competition.
By combining various dimensions, a perceptual map becomes more and more complicated, but for a company it will become clear in which area there is still market share to be captured.
Points for attention
The ideal points for attention that a consumer expects of a product can also be represented in perceptual mapping. When a company is considering the introduction of a new product, it will first look at the areas with the highest points for attention density. In combination with the perception areas, a company will immediately understand what the competition is aiming at.
Intuitive perceptual mapping
Perceptual mapping can also be based on the marketeers own intuitive opinions and views. The marketeers decisions are based on his experiences in and understanding of the sector. It is doubtful, however, in how far this perceptual map is valuable and objective.
In a detailed market research methodological problems may arise, however, the information is actually received directly from the consumer.
For the drawing up of a perceptual map, different statistical procedures can be used and implemented to collect and identify the rough data. Preferably, dimensions are used and implemented, but also multidimensional scales and ideal points for attention can provide an understanding of the competitive position of a company.
Furthermore, statistical methodologies such as factor analysis, discriminant analysis, cluster analysis and logit analysis are used. In addition to this, some techniques have been built up from perceived differences between products and others have been built up from perceived similarities.
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- Kim, D. J., Kim, W. G., & Han, J. S. (2007). A perceptual mapping of online travel agencies and preference attributes. Tourism management, 28(2), 591-603.
- Ritchie, J. R. (1975). On the Derivation of Leisure Activity Types–A Perceptual Mapping Approach. Journal of Leisure Research.
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