Perceptual Map Overview and Examples in Marketing

Nathan Mahr, Shawn Grimsley
  • Author
    Nathan Mahr

    Nathan has taught English literature, business, social sciences, history, and writing for over five years. He has a B.A. in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington.

  • Instructor
    Shawn Grimsley

    Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Learn the perceptual map definition and see how it is used in marketing. Study the two perceptual map marketing techniques: similarity data and preference data. Updated: 05/09/2022

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What is a Perceptual Map?

A perceptual map is a visual representation of how different products or brands are perceived relative to each other. It can include various metrics such as price, quality, and popularity, helping businesses understand where they fit within their industry and how they compare to their competitors. Perceptual maps are created through market research and focus groups that gauge consumer preferences and perceptions.

There are a variety of factors that can influence the results of a perceptual map, including intrinsic motivations and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic motivation refers to an individual's desire to engage in a particular activity for its own sake, while extrinsic motivation refers to external rewards or incentives that drive behavior. For example, if a company's customers prefer a particular product based on its quality and affordability, it may be driven by intrinsic motivations. However, if the same customers are motivated to purchase the product because of discounts or promotions offered by the company, this would be an example of extrinsic motivation.

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  • 0:01 Perceptual Mapping Defined
  • 0:18 Similarity Data
  • 1:06 Preference Data
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How Perceptual Maps are Used in Marketing

Perceptual maps are an important tool for marketers and businesses, as they provide valuable insights into consumer preferences and perceptions. By mapping out different product attributes against each other, marketers can better understand how their products compare to those of their competitors and what adjustments may need to be made to stay competitive. Additionally, perceptual maps can also help businesses understand which product attributes are most important to consumers and how they can better position their products in the marketplace.

Within the process of perception mapping, consumer responses are represented on a graph. Graphs provide a visual representation of the data that marketers and businesses can easily understand. Graphs can also help businesses see patterns and trends in consumer behavior, which can be used to make strategic decisions about marketing and product development. It is important to note that perceptual mapping can be used for both quantitative and qualitative data. For example, quantitative data can be gathered through surveys or focus groups that measure consumer preferences on specific product attributes. Qualitative data can also be gathered by analyzing consumer comments or reviews, which can provide valuable insights into the reasons behind consumer preferences.


Perceptual maps can be used to compare consumer perspectives of various brands and products.

Perceptual map image


Perceptual Map: Marketing Techniques

There are two common types of perceptual mapping known as similarity data and preference data. Each type of perceptual mapping is used for different marketing techniques.

Similarity Data

Similarity data is where respondents are asked to rate how similar two products are on the same product attribute. The results of this can show which products are seen as being substitutes for each other. This technique is commonly used in Conjoint Analysis, perceptual maps, and BCG Matrixes. The dimensions on a similarity map are usually product attributes. For example, if a person were to map out how similar different types of shampoo are, the product attributes could be things like scent, price, or brand.

This technique can be used to understand how a brand is perceived. For example, if a person were to ask people how similar two brands of shoes are, they would be able to see which brand is seen as a luxury brand and which is seen as a more affordable brand.

Preference Data

Preference data is where respondents are asked to rate how much they like or dislike a product on a particular attribute. The results of this can show which products are seen as being better or worse than each other. This technique is commonly used in Conjoint Analysis, MaxDiff, and perceptual maps. The dimensions on a preference map are usually product attributes or benefits. For example, if someone were to map out how much people like different types of soda, the product attributes could be things like sweetness, carbonation, or calorie content.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do marketers use perceptual maps?

There are many different ways that marketers can use perceptual maps. Some common applications include understanding why consumers prefer certain products, understanding how a new product is perceived in the market, and what the ideal mix of product attributes should be. After this data is gathered and analyzed, marketers can make informed decisions about their product and marketing strategy.

What does a perceptual map tell?

A perceptual map is a valuable tool that can provide insights into how consumers perceive different products. It can be used to understand what motivates consumers to buy a product or how a new product is perceived in the market.

What is a perceptual map in marketing?

A perceptual map is a visual representation of how consumers perceive different products. It is created by mapping consumer responses to a particular product on a graph. The position of the product on the graph is relative to other products in the market.

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