Perceptual Map: 4 Reasons to Use One

This pictures shows a map which represents perceptual mapping which is where you try to understand how customers perceive your business and then you adjust your business depending on the customers perception

Why Use a Perceptual Map?

You’ve probably heard of a perceptual map before. That thing a lot of marketers use when they are trying to determine how they are perceived in the industry. They do a lot of good when used correctly, and here is why.

1. A Perceptual Map Helps You To Understand Your Industry

One fatal flaw that so many marketers have is the lack of determination in conducting industry research. Any marketing decision must be based on research in order to conserve resources. The industry and its key players are vital elements when preparing a perceptual map. Therefore, they must determine what consumers value in that market, and understand where there are gaps for improvement. Above all, this kind of research allows a marketer to become an absolute expert in their business, and it helps to create informed accurate decision-making. No wonder most new businesses fail. If only they had done their research first.

2. Creates Self Awareness

This point is related to the previous point about research. When forced to study every player in an industry, you are much more aware of what makes you different. Therefore, you are able to understand which type of customer will want your product or service over another option on the market. Having this self-awareness makes it a lot easier to know how to alter your branding, how to create your company voice, and how to reach your target demographic with a unique value proposition.

3. Inspires Innovation

When conducting market research, you might discover a hole or space in the industry for innovation. A great example of this is when Uber and Lyft changed the ride-sharing/ taxi industry. They found a hole in the market where traditional transportation services were failing to tap into the new age of smartphones. Many drivers had spare time to give rides to their neighbors. The neighbors created a way to pay the drivers. The new ride-hailing services have forever altered the way we view transportation and democratized an industry that hadn’t seen significant innovation in decades.

4. Helps You Pivot

Every company has to pivot at some point in their life. With the rate of change in today’s economy, even a legacy company will die due to failure to pivot. The problem many companies face is the lack of information regarding what actions to take and where to pivot to. By creating a perceptual map of an industry, a company can see where there is a space in the industry, how many estimated customers are there, and start changing to adapt to the new customer base.


In conclusion, If you haven’t been using perceptual maps yet, start now. Your company doesn’t have to be new to use this tool. Every product or service offering should be accompanied by a perceptual map. The business as a whole should have it’s own perceptual map so the employees know and understand their niche in the market. It’s not too late to start your own, so get on it. Good luck!

Guide / How To Use A Perceptual Map:

Perceptual mapping is a technique used by asset marketers that visually displays the perceptions of consumers of any given industry as compared to industry competitors. The positioning of a brand is mostly influenced by consumer perceptions rather than by those of the businesses in the industry. A perceptual map typically has two dimensions of comparison with opposing points of scale, such as low-cost vs high-cost, or long-lasting vs short-lasting. However, a perceptual map can also have 4, 5, or more dimensions of comparison.

Creating a Perceptual Map

In order to create a perceptual map, a marketer must first conduct in-depth market research on competitors in their industry. After conducting market research, a marketer can determine which metrics can be used to measure their industry. The process of creating a traditional perceptual map follows as shown:

  1. Place the first metric of measurement on the x-axis with opposing perceptions of the
    metric on each end (i.e. low price vs high price).
  2. Place the second metric of measurement on the y-axis with opposing perceptions of
    the metric on each end (i.e. easy to learn vs hard to learn).
  3. Place industry competitors within the map as they correlate to consumer perception.
  4. Place your own company on the map as it correlates with consumer perception.

Perceptual Map Template:

This is a perceptual map that can be used to help visually display the perception of customers. This helps in determining the positioning of a brand.

Here is an example of a completed perceptual map for the cell phone carrier industry.

Check out the American Marketing Association to learn more about marketing.