Determinant Attributes

What are determinant attributes?

The first perceptual map format (which is the most common format presented in introductory marketing textbooks) relies on two determinant attributes. As we know, an attribute is any feature, function or benefit of a product (making products simply the sum of their multiple attributes).

But what is meant by a ‘determinant’ attribute? Well, a simple way to think about determinant attributes is to consider the particular attributes a consumer uses when they are determining their choice between competitive offerings. In other words, determinant attributes are the most important for them and are used to differentiate key offerings.

This is further explained in the following alternate definitions of determinant attributes:

  • “[A determinant attribute…] is both important and differentiating […] A determinant attribute is one on which customers will make choices about which products or services to purchase” (Blythe & Zimmerman, 2005).
  • “Determinant attributes are those attributes that actually determine the buyer’s final choice of service. A determinant attribute does not have to be the most important attribute but it is the attribute that the consumer uses to ultimately distinguish one service offering from another” (Botha, Bothma, & Brink, 2004).


You will note that both definitions highlight that determinant attributes are used to distinguish/differentiate between competitive offerings. In other words, given all the attributes of a product, which ones are actually used primarily in the selection process? Because of their importance to winning market share, key determinant attributes are used in perceptual maps.

For further information, some examples of determinant attributes for different product categories are provided in the How to construct a perceptual map section.