Positioning map helps consumers make decisions

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a hotel in Alberta, Canada. Surrounded by mountain peaks and an emerald lake in the Banff National Park, this hotel has a pub for the outdoor enthusiasts coming from all over the world. At the pub, the menu was carefully designed for foreigners by mapping local drinks in two dimensions: how bitter (vs. sweet) and mild (vs. full flavor) beers are and how sweet (vs. sour) and mild (strong) cocktails.



Visual mapping of existing products in two dimensions has been widely used among marketers who either modify existing products or introduce new products. Marketers rely on, so called, positioning map or perceptual map because map illustrates the customer perception of a company’s products and brands relative to their competition.



However, as the menu suggests, positioning map could benefit customers as well when provided with unfamiliar products. As persona helps designers communicate with users, map could help novice customers make informed decisions. In other words, positioning map aids consumers’ understanding of their own preferences, like consumption vocabulary.


West, P. M., Brown, C. L., & Hoch, S. J. (1996). Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 23(2), 120–135.

Consumers’ understanding of their own preferences can be aided by a “consumption vocabulary”-a taxonomy or framework that facilitates identifying the relation between a product’s features and one’s evaluation of the product. In the absence of such a vocabulary, consumers’ understanding of their own preferences will require more extensive experience and may never fully develop. The effect of such a vocabulary is tested in two experiments in which subjects provided with a vocabulary (1) exhibit better-defined and more consistent preferences than control subjects, (2) show improved cue discovery, and (3) show learning (i.e., increases in consistency over time). All results hold regardless of the functional form of the model used to assess subjects’ preference formation.



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