Perceptual Mapping

Understanding Customer Perceptions

Also Known as "Positioning Maps"

Perceptual Mapping - Understanding Customer Perceptions

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How do your customers really feel about your product or service? For instance, do they think that your product is a luxury item or a budget purchase? Do they see it as stylish or utilitarian, essential or novelty? And how do they compare it with your competitors' products?

No matter how well you think you know your customers, you might be surprised by their answers to these questions.

It's important that you understand how your customers see your brand, and that you know how they view your competitors. This directly affects how you market and position your product.

In this article, we'll discuss perceptual mapping – a simple, visual tool that you can use to understand how your customers view your product or service, compared with your competitors' offerings.

What Is Perceptual Mapping?

Perceptual mapping*, also known as positioning mapping, helps you analyze visually how your target market perceives your product or service.

A perceptual map, an example of which is shown in Figure 1 below, is a simple graph with a vertical and a horizontal axis. These axes represent the dimensions that you want to analyze, and you label each with the criteria your customers use to decide whether to buy your offering.

For example, imagine that your organization sells breakfast cereal. You want to know how customers perceive your cereal, and how they see your competitors' cereal; and you think that healthiness and and a feeling of fun are dimensions that your customers use to make their purchase decision.

To explore this, you would label the left side of the X-axis "unhealthy" and the right side "healthy." You would then label the top of the Y-axis "fun" and the bottom "boring." You would plot your cereal, along with your competitors' cereals, on the graph, according to what your customers say....

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