Marketing can get complicated and intricate at times. It is because of the complexity of the human brain and the way it functions. Customers are dynamic in thought but tend to converge while displaying certain emotions and behaviours.
A lot of these complex thoughts and behavioural patterns that the customers exhibit can be combined into a concept called as customer perception.
What is customer perception?
It is a marketing concept that tells us what customers think about a brand or a company or its offerings. It can be positive or negative feelings, perceptions, inhibitions, predispositions, expectations or experiences that a customer has.
If you understand the concept of customer perception, you will figure out that it is arguably the most important factor that decides the success of a brand, product or a company as a whole. How a particular brand or company is positioned also plays a vital role in this. The characteristics of a brand and its personality play a big role.
If we look at the company Apple, we can see that the company is positively perceived by most of its customers. In fact, there are die hard fans of Apple. The reason being that the company has been repeatedly innovative, it has good performing products which make a connect with their customers. As a result, Apple is one of the consistently top performing brands across the world.
Customer Perception decides how much a product sells and how a company is perceived. Let us study a few examples to understand the importance of customer perception and why it is important in customer decision making.
Factors deciding customer perception
In general, customer perception can be influence by a lot of factors. Some of the major factors are
- Consistency of performance – How has the brand performed in the past and how it is performing currently.
- Emotional connect – Superb brands know that emotional connection with the customer is critical to brand development.
- Marketing communications – How the brand communicates with the customers using the various media vehicles.
- Holistic marketing – A brand cannot be excellent if it has good sales staff but pathetic support staff. A brand has to be a good all rounder and satisfy customers from all its touch points.
Case study of Customer perception
SAMSUNG NOTE 7! BOOM!!
The second you read this, the first thought that will hit your mind is that of the entire fiasco of the Note 7 phones bursting in the pockets of customers. It might not have happened to you or it might have even not happened with anyone you know personally. But the very fact that you have heard about this in so many places, makes you harbour negative feelings towards the model.
If you were to buy a new phone and someone suggested the Samsung Note 7 to you, you would immediately reject the idea. Even if Samsung recalls all the devices of this model that have already been sold and were to give a public announcement that the malfunctioning has been rectified, people will be hesitant to buy it.
This is because the perception that the customer has about the device is completely negative. It will prevent the customer from making the purchase and will lead him/her to another model or possibly even another brand altogether.
Another example of customer perception is of Brad Pitt. Yes, human beings are brands too. Personalities like Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher are brands. They are perceived in certain ways by the public and they have brand managers who manage their positioning and public image.
So when we talk of Brad Pitt, there are a lot of customer perceptions that we can see. There are some who are the typical ‘Brad Pitt’ fans. They will perceive the brand very positively and will watch his movies enthusiastically. These people will usually be the ones who like a lot of drama and are fans of the entire machoism displayed by the characters he plays.
There are others who might perceive him in negative light. Some might not be interested in his acting whereas others might be surprised at the number of extra marital affairs he has had. Even Tiger woods for that matter, was a strong brand in Golf but destroyed it in the end with the various sexual lawsuits to him.
So, if you combine the case studies that we showed with the factors that influence customer perception, you will see various action points of how a brand can influence customer perception. A brand has to be consistent, flambouyant, it has to communicate and connect with the customers and it has to give an all round excellent performance to impress the customers.
The above case studies and the reasons that influence customer perception explain to a great extent as to what customer perception is, how it is important and how it influences customer decision making.