Brand Positioning and Perceptual Maps

480_Perceptual Map
A brand’s position is the set of perceptions, impressions, ideas and feelings that consumers have for the product compared with competing products. Marketers plan positions that give their products the greatest advantage in selected target markets, and they design marketing mixes to create these planned positions.

In planning their positioning, marketers often prepare perceptual maps that show consumer perceptions of their brand versus competing brands on attributes that are important to the consumer, whether functional or symbolic.

Perceptual Maps are useful for these key reasons:

* Assessing strengths and weaknesses relative to competing brands along certain criteria important to the customer.
o This is revealed by the positions of the marketer's brand and competing brands along the axes.

* Identification of competitive advantage for the brand

o Perceptual maps show differentiation among products in the customer's mind.
o For example, in a perceptual map representing the car market based on two dimensions, “conservative “ vs. “sporty” and “classy/ distinctive” vs. “practical/affordable,” Porsche will probability be seen as the classiest and sportiest of the cars in consumers’ minds, providing the brand with a strong competitive advantage. Assess opportunities for new brands, as well as for repositioning existing brands.
* Identifying market opportunities
o Empty spaces near an ideal point (meaning an attractive market segment) on the perceptual map represent potential market opportunities.
* See how ideal points are moving
o In addition, perceptual maps show how ideal points shift as markets mature, and therefore a brand might shift its positioning in order to retain or gain a competitive advantage.

What do you do when your product’s features are not registering with customers? If a brand has a competitive advantage on an attribute that is not salient, marketers can educate their customers as to why it is important and show them why they should care about this attribute.

If this does not work or if your positioning is not registering, marketers usually consider changing their positioning with a strategy that is more likely to be effective.

Contributed by: Ruth Stanat, President of SIS International Research and research partner of The Blake Project.

Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop


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  2. Perceptual mapping is a diagrammatic technique used by asset marketers that attempts to visually display the perceptions of customers or potential customers. The positioning of a brand is influenced by customer perceptions rather than by those of businesses. Want to learn how to draw perceptual maps? You can find some perceptual map templates in the diagram community of Creately to be used freely.