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How to create a perceptual map in Excel?


This article provides a detailed response to: How to create a perceptual map in Excel? For a comprehensive understanding of Market Research, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Market Research best practice resources.

TLDR Create a perceptual map in Excel by plotting products on a two-dimensional scatter plot to visualize market positioning and inform Strategy Development.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Creating a perceptual map in Excel is a strategic tool used by organizations to visualize the positioning of their products or services against those of their competitors. This framework is invaluable for Strategy Development, Market Analysis, and Product Positioning. Excel, with its versatile charting and data visualization capabilities, offers a practical platform for constructing these maps. The process involves plotting products or brands based on two dimensions that are most important to the target market, such as price and quality. By understanding how to make a perceptual map in Excel, executives can gain insights into market dynamics, identify gaps in the market, and strategize on differentiation.

Firstly, gathering and organizing data is crucial. This involves identifying the key attributes that influence consumer decision-making within your industry. Consulting firms like McKinsey or Bain often highlight the importance of selecting attributes that are both relevant to consumers and measurable. For instance, in the automotive industry, fuel efficiency and luxury might be two critical attributes. Once these attributes are defined, data on how consumers perceive each competitor's offering on these dimensions needs to be collected. This could involve market research, customer surveys, or industry reports from firms like Gartner or Bloomberg.

After the data collection, the next step is to input this data into Excel. This involves creating a two-dimensional scatter plot, where each axis represents one of the chosen attributes. Excel's scatter plot feature can then be used to plot each product or brand based on their scores on these attributes. It's essential to ensure that the data is accurately represented to make the perceptual map a reliable tool for decision-making. Customization features in Excel, such as data labels and color coding, can help in enhancing the readability of the map, making it easier for C-level executives to digest and analyze the information.

Finally, analyzing the perceptual map provides strategic insights. The positioning of products or services on the map can reveal market trends, potential areas for differentiation, and opportunities for new product development. It can also highlight the perceived strengths and weaknesses of an organization's offerings compared to competitors. This analysis forms the basis for strategic planning and decision-making, guiding organizations on where to allocate resources to maximize market impact and growth.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Perceptual Map in Excel

  • Prepare the Data: Start by compiling a list of competitors and score them on the identified attributes. This step is foundational and requires accuracy for the map to be effective.
  • Open Excel and Create a Scatter Plot: Navigate to the 'Insert' tab, select 'Chart,' and then choose 'X Y (Scatter).' This will create a blank chart area where you can plot your data.
  • Input Data: In the Excel spreadsheet, input your data. You'll need two columns for the two attributes you're analyzing. For example, one column for 'Price' and another for 'Quality.'
  • Customize Your Chart: Once your data is plotted, customize the chart by adding data labels, changing colors, or adjusting scales to enhance clarity. This customization makes the map more accessible and actionable for strategic discussions.

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Utilizing the Perceptual Map for Strategic Insights

The real value of a perceptual map comes from its analysis and how these insights inform Strategy Development. For instance, if a perceptual map shows your products are perceived similarly to a competitor's but at a higher price point, it may indicate a need for repositioning or reevaluating your value proposition. Similarly, finding a 'white space' on the map where no products currently exist could signal an opportunity for innovation and market entry.

Moreover, it's critical to update the perceptual map regularly. Market perceptions shift, new competitors emerge, and consumer preferences change. Regular updates ensure that the map remains an accurate tool for strategic decision-making. This iterative process helps organizations stay agile, responsive to market changes, and aligned with consumer needs.

In conclusion, mastering how to make a perceptual map in Excel equips executives with a powerful analytical tool. It simplifies complex market data into actionable insights, facilitating informed strategic planning and decision-making. With Excel's widespread availability and ease of use, it's an accessible technique for any organization looking to sharpen its competitive strategy.

Learn more about Strategic Planning Strategy Development Value Proposition Agile Market Entry

Best Practices for Perceptual Mapping

  • Choose Attributes Wisely: Select attributes that are most relevant to your target customers and can differentiate competitors effectively.
  • Ensure Data Accuracy: The insights derived from the perceptual map are only as reliable as the data it's based on. Invest time in gathering and verifying data.
  • Engage Cross-Functional Teams: Involving team members from different departments can provide diverse perspectives, enriching the analysis and strategic outcomes.

By following these steps and best practices, organizations can leverage perceptual maps as a strategic framework to navigate market complexities, identify opportunities for differentiation, and drive growth. Excel's functionality as a tool for creating perceptual maps makes it an indispensable asset for strategic planning and analysis.

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