What is the Competitive Positioning Matrix, and how can it be used?

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What is the Competitive Positioning Matrix, and how can it be?

When conducting market analysis or competitor analysis, one tool is often suggested. The Competitive Positioning Matrix. 

A Competitive Positioning Matrix, also known as a Positioning Map, is a tool for analysing how you and your offering are positioned relative to your competitors. It helps you understand the competitive landscape and identify opportunities that will make you stand out. 

Breaking down the matrix

It usually works like this:

Selection of Criteria 

Two key attributes that are important to the target market are chosen. These could be price, quality, luxury vs. practicality, the level of technology, customer service, or any other relevant factors.

Plotting Competitors 

Based on these attributes, companies or products are plotted on a two-dimensional grid. Each axis represents one of the selected criteria.

Analysis of Positions 

The positions of different competitors on the matrix provide insights into how they are perceived in the market. For instance, one brand might be considered high-quality but expensive, while another could be regarded as economical but lower in quality.

Identification of Gaps 

The matrix can help identify market gaps or niches that are underserved or not served at all, presenting potential opportunities for differentiation or new market entry.

Strategy Formulation

Based on the insights gained and significantly more competitive intelligence activities, you can: 

  • Develop strategies to strengthen your position
  • Move to a different position or target a new segment

This may involve changing perceptions through:

  • Marketing
  • Altering product features
  • Adjusting prices
  • Focusing on a niche market

What’s it used for

The Competitive Positioning Matrix is usually used for:

Market Analysis

To understand a market structure and how competitors are clustered.

Strategic Decision Making

Helping businesses make informed decisions about product development, marketing, and positioning strategies.

Communication Strategy

Aiding in crafting messages that differentiate a product or brand from its competitors.

To make the analyst look clever

Provide some filler pictures to drive home the message. Or to distract the reader from the need for insight and analysis. The point is that it’s crucial to remember that the Competitive Positioning Matrix and other similar tools are not to be used for the sake of it. SWOT anyone? They are a means to an end – understanding your place in the market and how you stack up against your competition in specific areas. Too many reports contain these matrixes solely to look pretty or make the author sound clever. 

An example of a Competitive Positioning Matrix

For instance, let’s consider that you’re exploring the dynamics of price and quality within your market. A matrix allows you to visualise where each competitor sits regarding these dimensions. 


On one axis, you have price, and on the other, quality. The lower left quadrant represents low price and low quality, while the upper right signifies high price and high quality. The different quadrants mix these attributes – one for low price but high quality and another for high price but low quality.

This matrix is more than just a static representation. It provides a dynamic market view from a particular angle, allowing for a focused analysis of certain aspects. 

Looking at traffic and engagement, conversion rate, product range or company size? Positioning these elements on a matrix can offer insightful correlations and market trends. Above all, this activity encourages the analyst to think. Then, the reader can agree or disagree with the findings. Then, challenge the analyst and explain why the reader agrees or disagrees. 

What are some criteria that can be used for a Competitive Positioning Matrix? 

A Competitive Positioning Matrix is a valuable tool in business strategy. It allows you to visualise your market position relative to competitors based on various criteria. Your chosen criteria should be relevant to your industry and important to your customers. Here are some examples of criteria that are commonly used:

  1. Price Level: Positioning based on the price point of products or services, from budget to premium.
  2. Quality can include a product or service’s durability, reliability, and performance.
  3. Product Range: The breadth and variety of products or services offered.
  4. Innovation: The degree of innovation in product features, technology, or business processes.
  5. Customer Service: Evaluating the quality of customer service and support.
  6. Brand Perception: Public perception of the brand. This could include prestige, trustworthiness, or social responsibility.
  7. Market Share: The company’s share of total sales in a particular market.
  8. Distribution Channels: The effectiveness and reach of distribution channels. Including online and offline platforms.
  9. Target Market Segments: The specific customer segments each competitor focuses on.
  10. Technological Capabilities: The level of technological advancement and digital integration.
  11. Sustainability Practices: Emphasis on eco-friendly practices and sustainability in business operations.
  12. Global Reach: The extent of international presence and global market penetration.

It’s important to select criteria relevant to your industry and customer needs. But don’t try to fit your needs in with others’ requirements. Ensure that the requirements are measurable and objective. Then, reliable and updated data sources will be used for analysis. Finally, the matrix should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect market changes.

How can a Competitive Positioning Matrix help in developing marketing strategies?

A Competitive Positioning Matrix is an invaluable tool for developing effective marketing strategies. Here’s how it can help:

Identifying Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)

Understanding where your company stands out in the matrix can help you pinpoint your unique strengths. These USPs can then be highlighted in your marketing campaigns, allowing you to differentiate your brand from competitors.

Targeting and Segmentation

The matrix can reveal which customer segments are underserved by competitors. This allows you to tailor your marketing strategies to target these specific groups.

Product Development and Innovation

Insights from the matrix can guide product development. Look for that gap in the market, the area where competitors could be stronger, or where you can innovate or modify your offering to meet these unaddressed needs.

Price Positioning

Understanding your pricing compared to competitors helps you decide whether to compete on price, value, or premium offerings. This understanding influences pricing strategies and how you communicate value in marketing messages.

Brand Messaging

The matrix informs the creation of brand messaging that resonates with your audience. Emphasising attributes that are important to them and where you outperform competitors.

Strategic Alliances and Partnerships 

What if it highlights areas where competitors are strong? Is this an opportunity for strategic partnerships or alliances? One’s which can be a unique point in your marketing narrative.

Market Expansion Decisions

It can guide market expansion or contraction decisions by understanding the competitive landscape. That’s segments or geography.

Resource Allocation 

The matrix helps allocate marketing resources more efficiently. It does this by highlighting the areas yielding the most competitive advantage.

Risk Management

You can anticipate and respond to competitor moves by monitoring the competitive landscape. Reducing your strategic risks.

Measuring Effectiveness

Post-implementation, you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies over time. Adjusting as necessary to maintain or improve your competitive position. A Competitive Positioning Matrix doesn’t just provide a snapshot of your market position. It offers strategic insights that can shape your marketing strategy, from product development to brand communication. This ensures that your efforts align with market demands and your competitive strengths.

What are the potential limitations of using only a Competitive Positioning Matrix?

A Competitive Positioning Matrix is a valuable tool in market analysis. But it’s one tool. Relying on it exclusively can present several limitations:

Overemphasis on Current Competitors

The matrix primarily focuses on existing competitors. It overlooks emerging players, substitutes, or disruptive technologies that could reshape the industry. You must be aware of these emerging threats. 

Static Analysis

Markets are dynamic, but a Competitive Matrix provides a snapshot at a specific point. It may not capture rapid changes in:

  • Market conditions
  • Consumer preferences
  • Competitor strategies

Subjectivity in Criteria Selection and Evaluation

The effectiveness of the matrix depends on the choice and accurate assessment of criteria. There’s a risk of bias or misjudgment in selecting and weighing these criteria, which could lead to skewed analysis. This is a massive risk, and everyone is in danger of it. Being aware of this is a great start to tackling it. 

Limited Scope

The matrix typically focuses on certain dimensions (price, quality, and market share). This can neglect other important factors that can impact market dynamics, such as: 

  • Regulatory changes
  • Macroeconomic trends
  • Cultural shifts 

Underestimation of Internal Capabilities and Resources

This externally focused tool must consider your strengths and weaknesses. With this, strategies will be aligned. At cantor to your internal capabilities, desires or resources.

Quantitative vs Qualitative Insights

While the matrix visualises comparisons, it may not capture qualitative aspects like: 

  • Brand loyalty
  • Customer experience
  • Organisational change 

All of which can be crucial competitive factors.

False Sense of Security

Many over-rely on their current positioning. Assuming continued success without acknowledging ongoing innovation and adaptation.

Neglect of Non-Competitive Factors

While factors such as partnerships, supply chain robustness, and societal trends are important, all factors impacting business performance must be captured in a traditional competitive matrix. To mitigate these limitations, use in conjunction with other analytical tools and frameworks. Tools like SWOT, PESTEL, Porter’s Five Forces, and scenario planning are advisable. This approach ensures a more comprehensive understanding of the market. Internal and external factors are needed to develop more robust and adaptable business strategies.

What is the Competitive Positioning Matrix, and how can it be used?

The key to an effective Competitive Positioning Matrix is choosing the dimensions that matter—not you or the boss but your target audience. They must reflect your market landscape. And it’s important to use such tools with a clear purpose. They effectively offer a snapshot of where you stand with your competitors and highlight potential areas for improvement or growth. But they should not be used in isolation. Combine them with other analytical methods to understand your competitive landscape.

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