Archive for May, 2011

Analyzing Consumer Perceptions

Understanding how consumers “see” the firm, brand, or product relative to competitors is important It is helpful to check whether the desired product positioning has been achieved or not

Data Collection & Profile Analysis

There are a variety of ways to collect perception data, including:
1. Rating Scale (ex. L’Oreal used a 1-10 scale to indicate the extent to which consumers agreed with statements such as “Plentitude is technologically advanced”; where 1 = completely disagree and 10 = completely agree.
2. Semantic Differential Scale – a variant of the rating scale, the semantic differential scale has five or seven points with polar adjectives at either end of the spectrum (ex. Barco Projectors are:
Unreliable ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ Reliable
Poor Value ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ Good Value)

Perception Data – What people see
Preference Data – What people like

When analyzing perception data, we are more willing to live with an assumption of homogeneity in responses across consumers (i.e. two people are both likely to perceive Volvo as a safe car, but our desires for a safe car might be very different)

If one suspects that perception data varies across groups, then the data can be broken out and analyzed by specific groups (i.e. Inexperience users vs. Experienced users; Young vs. Old)

If one suspects that perception data is the same across all respondents, then the data can be averaged. Once averaged, the data can be visually represented in a Profile Analysis or Snake Plot).
Snake plots work best when the number of brands/products compared is small (2-3).

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Perceptual Mapping Techniques

Perceptual mapping techniques are useful when we want to compare consumers’ perceptions of multiple competitors on multiple dimensions.
Two methods of perceptual mapping are: 1. Attribute Rating Method (ratings of methods on prespecified attributes) and 2. Overall Similarity Method (judgments on overall similarity of pairs of brands).
1. Attribute Rating Method
Ex. Dow’s Specialty Chemical Group used the attribute rating method to assess consumers’ perceptions of Dow vs. Competitors on 8 attributes:
1.       Meets scheduled delivery dates
2.       Practices innovation and development
3.       Has fair pricing
4.       Has consistent products
5.       Provides support in solving processing problems
6.       Has custom color capability
7.       Provides adequate technical literature
8.       Withstands high heat distortion temperatures

There are different sorts of mapping software that can be used to show multiple attributes in a two-dimensional space.  
If two vectors point in the same general direction, this shows highly correlated attributes that probably convey one underlying idea (i.e. “relieves dryness” and “leaves skin feeling soft” convey the same idea).
If two vectors create a 90-degree angle, then it shows that one attribute is unrelated to the other (i.e. “relieves dryness” and “available in stores where you shop” attributes might form a 90-degree angle because they are unrelated to one another).
If two vectors point in opposite directions of one another (180-degrees), then it captures the fact that the market perceives one attribute trading off the other (i.e. if one is high, the other is low).
2. Overall Similarity Method
The overall similarity method is useful for analyzing attributes we do not verbalize well (such as tastes, odors or aesthetics).  Specifically, for a given number of items, the respondent is required to rank the pairs of items from most similar to least similar (i.e. 1 = most similar pair and 15 = least similar pair).
A statistical method known as Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) can be used to create a map of the pair data.  The map is created in such a way that the distance between the items being compared match-up with the rankings from the paired data (i.e. those pairs that are most similar are closest together).  The statistical map allows us to eyeball the data and make inferences as to the reasons for certain items being more related than others (i.e. items sharing an educational component might be clustered together).

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Applying the Perceptual Maps in New Product Development

There are three major ways perceptual maps are used in marketing:
1.       to obtain a better understanding of current positioning and market structure
          maps might be useful in finding “holes” in the marketplace where niches could be developed
          maps might also indicate vulnerabilities of competitors
2.       to test where a new product being considered for introduction would be perceived
3.       to provide direction to R&D efforts to satisfy the wants of consumers better
          include respondents “ideal” in the set of things to be rated during the data collection phase in order to incorporate those ideals into the product

Limitations of Perceptual Maps:
1.       Presents a static view (i.e. a snapshot of consumer perceptions)
2.       While maps help a firm determine what it would like to do, it provides no indication of the cost or likelihood of achieving the desired positioning.

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