Inputs to Perceptual Maps

Where does the data come from for a perceptual map?

There are two main options for the base information used to construct a perceptual map. These are by using a suitable market research study or by relying upon management’s experience.

Marketing research

As you can imagine, perceptual maps rely upon significant data for their construction. The ideal source of this data is from a quantitative survey of consumers in their target market. Larger organizations would probably undertake this style of research on a regular basis. Sometimes these pieces of market research are called image studies.

In this survey, respondents would be asked to rate the various competing products on a range of attributes (or image statements), on some form of scale. For example, they might be asked to rate each of the soft drink brands (included in the perceptual map in the example section) on a scale of one to five in terms of sugar content, and so on. With this market research study as the data foundation, all three alternate presentations (as shown in the example section) of a perceptual map can be generated from the same data-set.


Management Understanding

Obviously, not all organizations have access to market research data. However it is quite possible to construct the first type of perceptual map, using the two determinant attributes, simply from management’s view of consumers’ perceptions. (It would also be possible for most university students to construct this style of perceptual map, based on their understanding of how consumers might consider the competing offerings.)

Although this technique is clearly not as reliable, it does have the advantage of being able to be constructed very quickly and without the expense of a large market research study.