Customer perception refers to the opinions and views that a customer exhibits towards a brand after coming in contact with the quality, service, and experience with a particular brand. The starting point of customer perception is when the user receives information about the product and ends when the user has built an opinion or an impression about the product.
Customer perception can be positive when a user has a pleasant experience with a brand, while an annoying or displeasing experience can lead to a negative perception.
When a company understands the importance of customer perception, it will realize that it is the most important factor for the success of a company.
Apple is a classic case where customer perception is placed very high leading to great sales. Apple has repetitively shown great innovation and quality in its products, that many have become di-hard fans of Apple. This has led to Apple topping the charts when it comes to brand.
When a customer buys a product from a company, it is not just the physical product that they purchase. The connection goes much beyond the product. There are emotional feelings and opinions that are associated with the product.
Customer perception often occupies a significant role in a company, as it has the ability to attract new customers as well as retain its existing customers. A company has the ability to control and decide on the factors that build a perception or an opinion about a brand.
Customer perception not just impacts a consumer who purchases and consumes the product, but it also affects any person who sees hears about your product without even engaging in a purchase transaction. Hence it becomes more important for a company to create a better customer experience that remains etched in their memories.
The modern consumer is more demanding and wants the best quality at competitive prices, which is also on the lookout for discounts and offers. These heightened expectations from consumers are making it difficult for companies to stand out by just offering better quality and price. Here building the customer perception takes importance. The company should strengthen its bond between customers and the company by offering better customer experience, thereby increasing the chances of repeat purchases.
Customer perception is influenced by many factors. Major ones are listed below:
Quality is one of the prime factors affecting customer perception as it is the face of the product and forms an impression about the product. If the product is able to satisfy the customers completely, then it leads to a positive perception in the mind of the customer.
A product is that reasonably priced and delivers value equivalent to the price will succeed in creating a positive customer perception. When the price is too high, and the worth is too low, the customer does not feel that it can justify the price.
When customers feel that the product has been able to satisfy their expectations every time, they start to build a positive perception of the product. This encourages the customer to repeat their purchases, and if they notice any change in the product offering, it is highly possible that the customer might get a negative perception leading to discontinuing the brand.
Packaging and branding
The First impression about a product are delivered by the attractive and relevant packing, which greatly impacts the customer perception. When the branding and packing of a product are done right, it gains the attention of the prospective user. Based on the product packing, customers will develop an image of the product.
Reputation is always important, but when it comes to an online reputation, it is a factor that can make or break customer perception. When you start becoming visible on many social media platforms, the social media audience will start building a perception about your product.
Since your audience trusts people more than brands, you have to make your brand look a little more like a person than a robot or a corporate. Add a human voice and personality to your brand. This builds the emotional connect with the customers thereby building a positive customer perception.
Managing Customer Perception
Customer perception is predominantly a thought and a psychological mind construction. A company can manage customer perceptions through various means:
Advertising is one of the best mediums to create customer perception of the product. Advertising is a way in which the product, its features, the color, look and feel, etc. can be given a meaning. With advertising, the right exposure required for the product can be generated.
While advertising is a message from the brand, customer reviews are coming straight from the users and not filtered to show only the positive side of a product, thereby making it more authentic. When potential customers are going over the customer reviews of the product, it creates a perception in the mind of the consumers.
When a delighted customer gives personal feedback about the product, it will generate greater trust with consumers as this comes from a peer who has used the product and is happy about it. Whenever possible, companies should aim for in-person interaction. The in-store consultants should engage with customers and suggest and offer them the best products.
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.
Brand equity occupies a major role in forming customer perception. When a brand is powerful, it enhances the customer’s attitude towards a brand. When customers are aware of a particular brand and are associated with it, they start building loyalty towards the brand, when customers are satisfied with the product. 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 equity, 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 brand equity. All marketing strategies adopted by the company should be driven by brand equity as it directly impacts customer perceptions. Marketers and companies should work towards aligning their objectives and strategies to obtain customers through positive customer perception.
Social media is slowly taking over as an important and strongest platform that can be used to create positive customer perception.
By the end of 2019, the number of social media users worldwide is expected to reach about 2.77 billion people, up from 2.46 billion in 2017. So, when there are so many potential customers on social media, it becomes the most important platform for brands to create an impression on their online audience.
Social media has a huge impact on the lives of consumers.
67% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow
Brands need to build their social media profiles and enhance the brand image on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Your potential customers are spending more time on social media by following brands and by researching online.
When you have established your brand presence on social media, it increases the chances of your potential customer finding you on social media. This will increase the likelihood of them forming a positive perception about the brand, thereby ending up doing business with you. And to add to it, when a customer got quick and convincing customer service, the customer would go about recommending the brand to friends and relatives thereby creating a positive perception in the minds of the new buyers.
In the age of the internet, social media has profoundly changed the way we do business. A huge 74% of consumers rely on social media to make buying decisions. So, if you want to build a positive perception of social media, it is time to get your brand on social media.