The Business Dictionary defines consumer perception as
“Marketing concept that encompasses a customer’s impression, awareness, or consciousness about a company or its offerings.”
Customer perception is a process where a customer collects information about a product and interprets the information to make a meaningful image about a particular product. When a customer sees advertisements, promotions, customer reviews, social media feedback, etc. relating to a product, they develop an impression about the product.
The entire process of customer perception starts when a consumer sees or gets information about a particular product. This process continues until the consumer starts to build an opinion about the product.
Everything that a company does affects customer perception. The way the products are positioned in a retail store, the colors, and shapes in your logo, the advertisements that you create, the discounts that you offer, everything impacts the customer perception.
For example, Avon uses a pink color with white and black accents. This color predominantly attracts women while men feel alienated by pink color. The customer perception is built based on the colors used in the logo.
But if a product is trying to attract both men and women, using just pink might not be a good idea.
Importance of Customer Perception
A happy customer is one who is satisfied with the experience that he has with a product or a service. The customer perception is built around the experience that a customer has with a product.
Consumer perception can make or break your brand.
- When customers had a pleasant experience of getting their products delivered on time, getting the products that were as explained in the product description, if they had great after-sale service, then customers would have developed a very positive opinion about the brand.
- But when customers had a bad experience such as broken products, no returns, no after-sales service, etc. the customers build a negative perception about the brand.
When companies work towards strengthening the bond between customers and the company, customer perception improves, and this gives way for a better competitive edge.
Customer perception is also important to determine the kind of image a brand wants to build.
For example, when a retail clothing store has displayed clothes in crowded racks using low quality plastic hangers, customers get a perception that it is a low-quality brand. But when the same clothes are presented well with back-lit mannequins, neatly arranged, good quality attractive hangers, etc. the customers build a different perception about the brand.
Customer perception or consumer perception plays a major role in buying behavior. Hence companies are going the extra mile to create a pleasant and happy customer experience for its customers. Companies are ready to spend money and effort to influence customer perception and drive profitable consumer behavior.
Factors Influencing Customer Perception
Customer perception can be influenced by external factors, some of which are listed below:
1. Personal experience
Customer perception is highly influenced by the personal experience that a customer had while buying and using a particular product. If the quality, customer service, price, logo, color, discounts, etc. were able to make an excellent impression on the minds of the customers, they would build a good perception of the brand. But in case they did not enjoy the experience with the brand, it will leave an everlasting impression.
Customers get to see the products first through advertisements and therefore become one of the biggest factors that influence customer perception. The advertisement and campaigns that a company runs will help to build a positive customer perception.
People generally buy things when another person has tried and tested it. Such people who have bought it first and tried the product become influencers. When people hear about the great product that the influencer has tried out, it will influence the person to buy it and test it out, as the recommendation has come from a known person whom they trust.
4. Customer reviews
Many people look into the customer reviews before buying a product. This shows that customer reviews are an important factor in defining customer perception. If the consumers see that a product has a lower number of stars and it does not have good customer reviews, then the impression that it creates on the consumer’s mind is that the product is not of good quality, thereby creating a negative perception.
5. Social Media
Social media has become the strongest medium to manage customer perception. Social media has offered the global reach, personalization, consistency, all at a lesser cost. When social media audience gets consistent communication regarding a product, the users build an image of the product. Social media can be used to post content, images, videos, etc. which helps to build the kind of perception intended by the company.
Create And Maintain Positive Customer Perception
Positive customer perception is very critical for the success of a business. When a brand is powerful, it enhances the customer’s attitude towards a brand. When customers are satisfied with the product., they get a positive perception towards a brand, and they start building loyalty towards the brand. This is the starting point of building a strong customer perception.
Strong brands carry greater brand equity, thereby allowing its customers to build a positive perception of their brand. Building the right brand equity will enable customers to have the right perceptions, feelings, opinions, and judgments of the brand. When strong brand equity is built, it will influence customers to buy more from the brand, thereby making them more loyal and recommend the brand to others.
When a company fails to create strong brand perception, it will lead to failure, as not many people are aware of the brand, though it may have good quality and performance. It can lead to poor customer perception about the brand, which is damaging to the growth of the company.
Companies should realize that in a fast-growing industry, their priority should be to focus on creating a positive customer perception. All the marketing strategies adopted by the company should be driven towards building stronger customer perception.
Marketers and companies should work towards aligning their objectives and strategies to obtain customers through positive customer perception.