What do your customers really think about you? You know your company values, motto, logo, brand, and image, but do you know the actual thoughts that go through their heads when they think of your business? Do you know what are the things they associate you with? If you don’t, then you’re here to learn about customer perception.

What Is Customer Perception? Does it have a Theory?

If you have a business of any kind, then you can consider yourself a merchant. Every single merchant out there is trying to up his sales by determining what is it exactly that makes the people buy his product. Is it the price, the taste, the smell, the brand or something else?

The consumer perception theory aims to explain a customer’s behavior via analysis of the reasons why he or she buys or doesn’t buy, for that matter, a particular product. When it comes to the consumer perception theory, there are three areas to which it refers, as follows.

  • Self-perception;
  • Perception of a benefit as related to the quality of life;
  • The perception of price.

As a theory, consumer perception also uses the idea of sensory perception and applies it to advertising and marketing. Sensory perception speaks about how humans receive and process stimuli towards their senses. In the same way, customer perception speaks about how individuals form their opinions of particular companies and the items or services they have to offer.

The best way for you, as a merchant, to determine how exactly your public views you is by applying the customer perception theory. You can also employ it for marketing purposes as well as strategies related to advertising. Your ultimate goals, in this case, will be to maintain a positive relationship with your current customers as well as attracting new ones.

4 Areas of the Customer Perception Theory

1. Self-Perception

Once you delve into the realms of self-perception, it will show you how individuals manage to get to a point where they understand the motivations behind their decisions. These are the same values and motivations which pen their buying behaviors and patterns. Once you understand that about your clients, you’re golden as a merchant, so to say.

Let’s take an example here, for a better understanding. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted a study exactly on this subject. They wanted to know how self-perception molded the buying behavior of different consumers. The question they asked themselves was the following one. Do the consumers believe the buying decisions they are making have a real effect on issues such as the environment?

The answer was yes. In fact, not only that but self-perception was a driving factor for consumers when it came to prioritizing purchases that had an impact on the environment. This translates into the fact that those individuals who thought of themselves as being more socially conscious than others gave more meaning to pressing issues such as the impact their purchases had on the environment.

2. The Perception of Price

Here, for the second part of our customer perception theory, there are two ends of the merchandising business. At one end, we have retailers such as Wal-Mart who appeal to their customers via their prices. In other words, they never speak about the products or services themselves. The reason is that they hope to bring people into the store by advertising prices, not items.

At the other end, we have upscale retailers, who focus on the product and not its price. This happens because they know the price is high. Or, in any case, it’s higher than parts of their competition who offer more or less the same thing. Therefore, they tend to sell the quality and attributes of the product and nothing else.

For example, a high-end retailer of perfume or coffee will always talk about the high-quality ingredients and the manual labor that went into making both. The result is a cup of coffee which will wake you up in the morning and have a positive health impact on your body. Or it can be a perfume that lasts for two days straight and so on.  They will also tell you, in a somewhat veiled manner, that indeed, their coffee or perfume might cost the double of what you can find elsewhere. However, nothing can beat their quality.

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3. The Inner Side of Price

But what about price perception in customers? How do they view it? The School of Business Administration at LaSalle University and LeBow College of Business at Drexel University performed some studies on this interesting matter. What they discovered is even more intriguing. It appears that customer perception regarding price is influenced by both the desire to spend as less money as possible and the wish for a high-quality product.

Evidently, that cannot always happen. However, if you manage to provide that, once again, you’re golden. In other words, and talking about customer perception, if your clients view you as a place where they can buy relatively cheap items that are good on the quality scale, you can expect to do a lot of business. Do you need an example of such a business? How about Starbucks? It’s cheap enough so that you can afford it almost every day and it’s good enough to satisfy your coffee fix.

4. The Perception of the Benefit as Related to the Quality of Life

When it comes to the consumer perception of the benefits your products have for them, you must convince them this is true. The most often-phrases you can hear in advertising are ‘Buy it. It’s good.’ or ‘Buy it. It’s good for you.’ Or, evidently, a combination of both. But do your customers believe you when you tell them that? This is the question you really have to answer.

If you can answer it, then you have also solved your customer perception conundrum. Marquette University, Louisiana State University and the University of Arkansas performed some studies of their own. They built on the exact same questions like the ones we listed in the paragraph above. Also, they chose the food industry as a sample. What they found was intriguing. As it turns out, customers are somewhat reluctant when it comes to buying a product just because it’s supposed to be healthy according to the commercial. If that item has no serious and real research behind it to support the claim, then customers will say ‘nay, my good sir, I am off to something else.’

The same thing happens with a product which customers already know that is bad, but they are advertising it as being healthy.

What can you, a business owner draw from this? The fact that false advertising is always a no when it comes to customer perception. Also, the idea that you shouldn’t try to push things that have already received a particular label.

Final Thoughts

Here is a short brief on how customer perception works. Therefore, what do you say? Where do you stand in the eyes of your customers?

Images from depositphotos.com.