The laser beam M2 quality parameter is based on the second moments’ theory, as defined by ISO standards, and provides a common approach for defining the propagation characteristics of laser beams as a whole. At the same time, the M2 parameter fails to quantitatively distinguish the quality of laser beams with different spatial characteristics. For example, several laser beams with very different spatial profiles may have the same M2 value. To overcome this ambiguity, a different beam quality criterion is introduced, allowing for a quantitative definition of both the structured laser beam shape and its propagation characteristics. This criterion, called the encircled power M2 (EPM2), bridges the gap between the M2 quality parameter and the structured laser beam shape. Based on several examples we demonstrate the utility of EPM2 as applied to characterization of several structured laser beam types.