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What are the best practices for creating a perceptual map in Excel to analyze market positioning?


This article provides a detailed response to: What are the best practices for creating a perceptual map in Excel to analyze market positioning? 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 Creating a perceptual map in Excel involves identifying key dimensions, gathering data, plotting a scatter plot, and regularly updating it for Strategic Planning and Market Analysis.

Reading time: 3 minutes


Creating a perceptual map in Excel is a strategic tool for analyzing market positioning that enables organizations to visualize the competitive landscape and identify opportunities for differentiation. This framework is particularly useful for C-level executives aiming to make informed decisions about Strategy Development, Product Positioning, and Market Entry. The process involves plotting competing products or services on a two-dimensional grid based on factors that are important to the target market, such as price, quality, or features.

The first step in how to create a perceptual map in Excel involves identifying the key dimensions that matter most to your customers. Consulting firms like McKinsey and BCG emphasize the importance of selecting dimensions that are both relevant to consumers and differentiate between competitors. This might include factors like innovation, customer service, or sustainability. Once these dimensions are identified, data collection through market research or customer feedback is crucial to accurately position each competitor on the map.

After gathering the necessary data, the next step is to create the framework in Excel. This involves setting up a scatter plot with the chosen dimensions represented on the X and Y axes. Excel's chart tools allow for customization and fine-tuning of the plot, enabling organizations to add labels, change colors, and adjust scales for clarity. It's essential to ensure that the map is easy to read and interpret, as the goal is to glean strategic insights from the visualization.

Finally, analyzing the perceptual map provides actionable insights into market positioning. Organizations can identify gaps in the market, spot overcrowded segments, and pinpoint areas where competitors are clustered closely together. This analysis informs Strategic Planning, guiding decisions on whether to pursue differentiation, target an underserved niche, or reposition existing offerings. The perceptual map is not just a static representation but a dynamic tool that should be updated regularly to reflect changes in the market or shifts in consumer preferences.

Best Practices for Creating a Perceptual Map in Excel

  • Start with Comprehensive Market Research: Before even opening Excel, ensure that your market research is thorough. Understand the dimensions that are most meaningful to your target audience. Consulting giants like Accenture and Deloitte often highlight the importance of leveraging both quantitative and qualitative data to inform your dimensions.
  • Utilize a Clear, Concise Template: The effectiveness of a perceptual map hinges on its clarity. Design a template in Excel that is straightforward, avoiding unnecessary clutter. Use contrasting colors for different competitors and clear labels to enhance readability.
  • Engage in Continuous Update and Analysis: Market dynamics are perpetually in flux. Regularly updating your perceptual map in Excel ensures that your strategy remains aligned with the current market reality. This practice is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge and adapting to emerging trends.

When executed correctly, a perceptual map in Excel is more than just a visual tool—it's a strategic asset. It provides a bird's-eye view of the competitive landscape, offering insights that are critical for informed decision-making. For instance, a tech organization might discover through its perceptual map that while there are numerous competitors in the high-price, high-innovation quadrant, there's a notable gap in the market for moderately priced, innovative products. This insight could spur the development of a new product line that addresses this unmet need.

Moreover, the process of how to create a perceptual map in Excel encourages cross-functional collaboration within the organization. Marketing teams, product development, and strategic planning departments can all contribute their insights and expertise, fostering a more integrated approach to Strategy Development and Market Analysis.

In conclusion, mastering how to create a perceptual map in Excel is an essential skill for C-level executives. It not only aids in visualizing the competitive arena but also serves as a foundation for strategic discussions and decision-making. By following best practices and leveraging this framework effectively, organizations can navigate the complexities of the market with greater confidence and precision.

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Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

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Source: Executive Q&A: Market Research Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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