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Exploratory market structure analysis. Topology-sensitive methodology.

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Given the recent abundance of brand choice data from scanner panels market researchers have neglected the measurement and analysis of perceptions. Heterogeneity of perceptions is still a largely unexplored issue in market structure and segmentation studies. Over the last decade various parametric approaches toward modelling segmented perception-preference structures such as combined MDS and Latent Class procedures have been introduced. These methods, however, are not taylored for qualitative data describing consumers' redundant and fuzzy perceptions of brand images. A completely different method is based on topology-sensitive vector quantization (VQ) for consumers-by-brands-by-attributes data. It maps the segment-specific perceptual structures into bubble-pie-bar charts with multiple brand positions demonstrating perceptual distinctiveness or similarity. Though the analysis proceeds without any distributional assumptions it allows for significance testing. The application of exploratory and inferential data processing steps to the same data base is statistically sound and particularly attractive for market structure analysts. A brief outline of the VQ method is followed by a sample study with travel market data which proved to be particularly troublesome for conventional processing tools. (author's abstract) ; Series: Report Series SFB "Adaptive Information Systems and Modelling in Economics and Management Science"

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Josef Mazanec

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