A perceptual map is of the visual technique designed to show how the average target market consumer understands the positioning of the competing products in the marketplace. In other words, it is a tool that attempts to map the consumer’s perceptions and understandings in a diagram.
The word ‘perceptual’ comes from the word ‘perception’, which basically refers to the consumers’ understanding of the competing products and their associated attributes. (Note: In some textbooks, perceptual maps are referred to as positioning maps, but for our purposes they essentially have the same meaning.)
The most common presentation format for a perceptual map is to use two determinant attributes as the X and Y axes of a graph, however there are also other formats that are sometimes used. Definition of perceptual maps
Most definitions are fairly consistent in their description of perceptual maps, as follows: “Perceptual maps measure the way products are positioned in the minds of consumers and show these perceptions on a graph whose axes are formed by product attributes.” (Kardes, Cronley, & Cline, 2011).
“A perceptual map represents customer perceptions and preferences spatially by means of a visual display” (Ferrell & Hartline, 2008).
You will note that both definitions highlight that the information is visually presented on some form of graph or display. And that a perceptual map is designed to examine consumer perceptions and understanding, primarily of products and their associated positioning.
The main types of perceptual maps
There are three main formats for a presenting a perceptual map.
Using two determinant attributes
The first format (which is the one presented in the majority of introductory marketing textbooks and most probably the only format an undergraduate student would need to know) simply uses two determinant attributes on the graph. Below is a simple example of a perceptual map for soft drinks in