Perceptual Maps: Strategic Product & Brand Positioning
Brand Positioning - How your product is positioned in the minds of consumers is critical to success
Brand positioning is related to target marketing and the strengths of competitive target marketing initiatives. The goal of brand positioning is to identify a total brand concept (personality that the brand sponsor wants a particular brand to have; the desired image of the brand in the market and in the minds of consumers) and stress salient product characteristics that differentiate your brand from competing brands. In most cases, a brand cannot be all things to all people. To understand each competitor’s product positioning, perceptual maps are often developed based on survey analysis and sophisticated multivariate statistical techniques.
Perceptual Maps are a tool for visually mapping customer perceptions of brands for the purpose of finding unique and differentiable brand positions. Perceptual maps widely used in Marketing Research to plot objects in multidimensional space on the basis of respondents judgments on similarity, likelihood to purchase, overall satisfaction and any number of other factors. The perceived difference among objects is reflected in the relative difference among the objects being studied. While there are many analytical techniques that can be used to construct perceptual maps, in most cases respondents are asked to compare the similarity of one object to others. For example, in a study about compact cars a respondent might be asked to rate the similarity of a Ford Focus, to a Chevy Aveo, Mini Cooper, Honda Insight, Toyota Corolla, Scion XB, Kia Rio, Mazda 3, Nissan Versa, Kia Rio, and Scion XD. Then the analysis attempts to explain the difference in objects on the basis attitudes. The unfolding of the attitude components helps explain why objects are judged to be similar or dissimilar.
In another example, consumers might be asked to evaluate the similarities among several brands of toothpaste. After the data is collected, the overall similarity scores for all possible pairs of objects are aggregated across the various age groups of respondents and then arranged in a table. Then with the aid of multivariate statistical analysis, the similarity judgments are transformed into distances and correctly positioned in multidimensional space. The distance between similar objects on the perceptual map is small for similar objects; dissimilar objects were further apart.
A variety of statistical techniques can be used to generate each type of map. Perceptual maps are usually constructed using multiple discriminant function, multiple correspondence analysis and logit analysis. Preference maps are typically developed by a form of multidimensional “unfolding.” More recently developed hybrid maps are often composed by first devising a perceptual map and then introjecting preferences as “ideal points” or as “vectors.”