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Market Mapping

Positioning a product correctly on the market is essential for all businesses. How will the business differentiate its product or brand from competitors? How will it persuade consumers to choose its new product over competitors' products? There are a variety of competitive analyses businesses can conduct to find out where exactly they stand in the market based on existing industry data. But how can businesses know exactly where their product stands in the eyes of their customers? How can they gain further insight into customers' attitudes and perceptions of their competitive environment? One way of finding this out is through market mapping. Read along to find out more about how we can construct market maps.

Market Mapping Definition

Let's first take a look at the definition of market mapping.

Market mapping, also known as perceptual mapping, is a technique that businesses and market researchers use to understand how customers view a certain product or brand.

A perceptual map is based on customer perception rather than market and industry data. As a result, the process of constructing a market map is a form of market research. Companies must actively seek out information on customer perceptions using surveys, focus groups, or other types of market research methods.

Check out our explanation of Market Research to learn more about the different techniques used for consumer research.

The steps of creating a perceptual map are as follows:

  1. Collect customer insights,

  2. Select essential attributes,

  3. Create the perceptual map,

  4. Identify areas where competition is concentrated (and not concentrated),

  5. Examine how closely brands compete.

Market Mapping Tools

To create a perceptual map, the market researcher must ask consumers to identify important brand attributes and evaluate specific aspects of the brand including which brands are seen as competitors. This process can be conducted through surveys, interviews, focus groups, or a combination of two or more methods.

From this information, the researcher selects the most important brand attributes. These attributes will make up the two dimensions of the market map's scale. These brand attributes could include quality, taste, texture, price, etc.

Based on this information the researcher can plot all the different brands or products and identify which areas of the diagram are heavily competitive. They may also observe how close competitors are to their brand.

Once the competition has been evaluated, marketers may use the market map to identify which competitors to compete with or to come up with new ideas for product development in untapped markets. The market mapping process also helps marketers gain deeper insight into consumer behavior in terms of attitudes and perceptions.

Perceptual Map Marketing

A perceptual map allows businesses to understand which brands are their closest competitors and which attributes of their product or brand play the most significant role in differentiating them from competitors. But are there any further advantages of perceptual mapping?

Benefits of Market Mapping

Some of the advantages of perceptual mapping:

  • Provides a visual representation of information.

  • Clear and easy to interpret when the marketer needs to make a quick decision.

  • Helps marketers understand market segments.

  • Based on quantitative data.

  • Useful for market researchers.

  • Helps evaluate the performance of marketing campaigns.

  • Illustrates changes in customer preferences.

  • Tracks how new product developments are performing in the market.

Limitations of Market Mapping

Some of the limitations of perceptual mapping include:

  • It represents a very simplistic version of consumer decision-making.

  • It is often time-consuming and expensive to collect this type of data.

  • There can be differences between the customer's perception of a product and the actual qualities of the product.

Market Mapping Example

Let's now take a look at an example of a perceptual map.

Market Mapping Example market map StudySmarterFig. 2. Makeup Brands Perceptual Map, StudySmarter Originals

Marketers of a new makeup brand have decided to survey consumers on their attitudes and perceptions towards a list of existing makeup brands. Figure 2 above represents the perceptual map the researchers have constructed.

You can see that the two dimensions being used to represent the position of each brand are price and quality. Tom Ford Beauty and Guerlain are placed as the makeup brands that offer the highest quality product for the highest price (top right quadrant). Elf Cosmetics is placed as the lowest price, lowest quality product (bottom left quadrant). Further, we see that Rimmel London and Elf Cosmetics are competing closely in the low-price and low-quality segment. The market map also shows a potential gap in the market, in the lower-priced, mid-quality segment. This could potentially be an effective way to position your new product - targeting the low-price, high-quality segment.

On the other hand, the same makeup brands could also be plotted on a market map based on two different dimensions. For example, if the two dimensions being used were 'cruelty-free' and 'convenient packaging' the makeup brands would be positioned differently, resulting in a completely new market map.

Positioning Map Marketing

On the other hand, a positioning map is slightly different from a market map.

A positioning map is a visual representation of market positioning. It represents a range of positions a product has or could have in the market.

The positioning map is represented on a scatter plot diagram, and it maps the positioning of competitors in relation to the brand. The market is mapped based on two dimensions (for example, price and quality), similar to a perceptual map. A positioning map is useful for spotting gaps in the market and understanding where your competitors have positioned themselves in the market. It is also useful for planning purposes - to figure out where you would ideally want your product or brand to stand in relation to competitors.

A positioning map is not the same as a perceptual map. A perceptual map shows how consumers view your product, whereas a positioning map is not based on consumer perceptions. Positioning maps show where existing products and services are positioned in the market.

A positioning map is useful for understanding competition in a given market. It is, however, important to understand that different types of competitors can compete with your product, even if these competitors position themselves differently on the market.

A company that positions itself in the low-price segment could spot a gap in the market, and in the future create a new brand targeting the high-price and high-quality segment.

This is why positioning maps are important for examining current competition, positioning, and identifying gaps in the market. A positioning map also shows which brands or products are market leaders and which ones follow behind.

Take a look at our explanation of Competitor Analysis to find out more about competitive market positions.

Market Mapping: Positioning map benefits

There are a couple of reasons why a business would use a positioning map:

  • To analyze competition and competitors' positioning.

  • As a tool that helps market researchers.

  • To help marketers differentiate their products and brands.

  • To understand the product positioning aspect of the marketing mix.

  • As a tool to help create an effective marketing strategy for new products.

  • To adjust existing strategies for their current product/brand offering.

Market Mapping: Positioning map limitations

Some of the disadvantages of a positioning map are:

  • The business will most likely have to conduct further research to come up with effective strategies.

  • Just because researchers have identified a gap in the market does not mean that the product will be successful.

  • The scale or dimensions that the marketers used might not be the most effective one for the market or industry they are trying to examine.

Differentiation and Positioning

As you may have already suspected, differentiation and positioning are closely related in marketing. Firms can position their products based on how they differentiate them from competitors' products. However, this is not always a simple process. Some companies might offer superior service or innovative packaging as their main differentiating attribute. However, if there are multiple firms competing for the same market segment's attention in the same market position, differentiation becomes more difficult. This may also be the case when a firm tries to tap into a new market opportunity it found based on a positioning map. Other firms will likely also aim for the same market position. Therefore, each firm must differentiate itself based on a number of unique benefits it offers to a significant portion of its target customers.

Market Mapping - Key takeaways

  • A perceptual map is a visual representation of how customers view a business' product or brand.
  • A perceptual map is based on consumer perceptions instead of industry data.
  • Marketers can construct a perceptual map by:
    1. Collect customer insights,
    2. Select essential attributes,
    3. Create the perceptual map,
    4. Identify areas where competition is concentrated,
    5. Examine how closely brands compete.
  • Marketers may use the market map to identify which competitors to compete with or to come up with new ideas for product development in untapped markets.
  • The market mapping process also helps marketers gain deeper insight into consumer behavior in terms of attitudes and perceptions.
  • A positioning map is a visual representation of market positioning. It represents a range of positions a product has or could have in the market.
  • The positioning map is represented on a scatter plot diagram and it maps the positioning of competitors in relation to the brand.

Frequently Asked Questions about Market Mapping

Market mapping is a technique that businesses and market researchers use to understand how customers view a certain product or brand. 

Perceptual mapping is a process marketers use to explore how customers view a brand or product. A perceptual map is based on customer perception rather than market and industry data. Companies must actively seek out information on customer perceptions using surveys, focus groups, or other types of market research methods.

Businesses may use market mapping to identify which competitors to compete with or to come up with new ideas for product development in untapped markets. The market mapping process also helps marketers gain deeper insight into consumer behavior in terms of attitudes and perceptions. 

The steps of creating a perceptual positioning map are as follows:

  1. Collect customer insights,

  2. Select essential attributes, 

  3. Create the perceptual map, 

  4. Identify areas where competition is concentrated (and not concentrated),

  5. Examine how closely brands compete. 

An example of market mapping can be observed through the introduction of a new makeup brand. Marketers of the new makeup brand decide to survey consumers on their attitudes and perceptions towards a list of existing makeup brands. They then determine the two most important dimensions: price and quality. From consumer research, they find a gap in the market n the lower-priced, mid-quality segment which shows high potential. 

Final Market Mapping Quiz

Question

What is a positioning map?  

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Answer

A positioning map is a visual representation of market positioning. It represents a range of positions a product has or could have in the market. The positioning map is represented on a scatter plot diagram and it maps the positioning of competitors in relation to the brand.

Show question

Question

What is an example of the dimensions that could be used to map a market? 


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Answer

Example: Price and Quality. High price/low price,  and high quality/low quality would make up the four quadrants.

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Question

What does a positioning map tell you about competition? 


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Answer

The positioning map tells you how your brand compares to competitors' brands. It shows how your business's brand is positioned in relation to similar brands offered by competitors.

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Question

Name two benefits of a positioning map. 


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Answer

The positioning map can be used: 

  • To analyze competition and competitors' positioning. 

  • As a tool that helps market researchers.

  • To understand the product positioning aspect of the market mix.

Show question

Question

Name two limitations of a positioning map. 


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Answer

  • Just because you have identified a gap in the market does not mean that the product will be successful.

  • The scale or dimensions that you have used might not be the most effective ones for the market or industry you are trying to examine. 

Show question

Question

How would you create a positioning map? 


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Answer

To create a positioning map you need to first decide which product or brand your business would like to compare to its competitors. You then need to decide which dimensions you are going to use for your diagram. A positioning map always has to feature two different dimensions. You then have to plot your brand and competitors' brands on the scatter plot diagram; this will become your positioning map.

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Question

What is a perceptual map? 


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Answer

A perceptual map is a visual representation of how customers view a business' product or brand. It allows managers to understand which brands are their closest competitors and which attributes of their product or brand play the biggest role in differentiating them from competitors.

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Question

What is the difference between a perceptual map and a positioning map?


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Answer

A perceptual map shows how consumers view your product, whereas a positioning map is not based on consumer perceptions.

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Question

Name two advantages of perceptual mapping?


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Answer

  • Help us understand market segments. 

  • Useful for market researchers. 

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Question

Name one of the disadvantages of perceptual mapping.  


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Answer

It is often time-consuming and expensive to collect this type of data.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a characteristic of perceptual mapping?

  1. It provides a visual representation of information. 

  2. It is used by market researchers. 

  3. It helps us understand market segments. 

  4. It is based solely on industry data. 

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Answer

D.

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Question

Positioning a product appropriately is essential for business  

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Answer

True

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Question

........ is a visual representation of market positioning 

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Answer

A positioning map

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Question

What is the difference between a positioning map and a perceptual map?

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Answer

A perceptual map shows how consumers view your product and positioning maps shows where existing products and services are positioned

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Question

...... is useful in tears of market competition

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Answer

Positioning map

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Question

Marketing mapping is a technique that business and market researchers use to understand how customers view a certain product/brand

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Answer

True

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Question

Marketing mapping is also known as

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Answer

a. perceptual mapping

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Question

Market mapping shows the potential position a product can attain in a market

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Answer

True

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A perceptual mapping is limited by its simplicity which does not represent the process of decision-making  

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Answer

True

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Question

A perceptual mapping can be created through the following except

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Answer

a. surveys

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Question

A positioning map is beneficial as it gives a business an idea of its rival's strategy and aids with product position of market mix

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Answer

True

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Question

The table below highlights the difference between perceptual mapping and positioning map

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Answer

True

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