The Map Gap: Extending Product Maps February 2003

About This Report

Mapping is a widely accepted way for marketers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between their products and brands and those of their competitors. The resulting product maps are useful decision-support tools that can help companies position and promote their products and brands in the marketplace. Until recently, product maps have either positioned products within a single category, such as colas or four-door domestic sedans, or mapped products within a multicategory space, such as beverages (which comprises colas, juice, tea, bottled water, and so on). Today, however, the marketplace is more competitive than ever and sees large numbers of new product introductions. In turn, people's consumption behaviors have changed, reflecting lifestyle choices and needs for self-expression more than economic need. In this environment, a need exists for a more comprehensive map than marketers have relied on in the past—one that provides a society-level perspective and that shows the intersection of people, products, lifestyle activities, and media consumption. This study presents such a framework, which grows out of SRI Consulting Business Intelligence (SRIC-BI) research into consumer motivations and behaviors in industrialized countries. By positioning products or brands within three dimensions, the new, more comprehensive map allows marketers to compare the positions of people, products, activities, and media within a society; to identify natural clusters of these elements to help plan integrated marketing; and to make cross-cultural comparisons. By adding this sort of comprehensive framework to traditional mapping activities, companies can strengthen their market planning in today's increasingly complex markets.