Perceptual Mapping / PERMAP

Perceptual mapping / permap - ToolsHero

This article explains the theory of Perceptual Mapping (PERMAP) in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful marketing analysis tool.

What is Perceptual Mapping in marketing?

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.

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.

Perceptual Mapping example

When it is about different cars, perceptual mapping can provide information about the perception of consumers with respect to the dimensions: low performance/ low performance and low prestige/ high prestige.

Perceptual mapping / permap example - ToolsHero


According to consumers, cars that are close together in the Mapping are comparable in terms of price and quality. In the US this applies to the brands Ford, Chrysler Honda and Toyota. 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 permap 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 the 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

This graphical technique 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.

Different approaches

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.

It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is Perceptual Mapping / PERMAP ‘s applicable in today’s modern economy and marketing? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have additions? What are your success factors for a good product / brand Analysis?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

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More information

  1. Dowling, G. R. (1986). Managing your corporate images. Industrial marketing management, 15(2), 109-115.
  2. Fodness, D. D., & Milner, L. M. (1992). A perceptual mapping approach to theme park visitor segmentation. Tourism Management, 13(1), 95-101.
  3. 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.
  4. Ritchie, J. R. (1975). On the Derivation of Leisure Activity Types–A Perceptual Mapping Approach. Journal of Leisure Research.

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Vincent van Vliet
About the Author

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.

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