By Elcee McEdwards
While there is a multiplicity of products out there proposing to serve the same needs, many consumers are looking for that product that will give them optimum satisfaction. That’s right, you will say. But what happens when there are a variety of products that optimally meet the same need? It is at this point that consumer perception becomes king.
In a market with competing products that meet the same needs, the consumer’s perception becomes the major determiner of patronage and loyalty. That is why marketing communications, even as it is practiced today, must have the building of favourable perception as a major goal.
While many marketers still believe that the better product still wins the marketing battle, a little closer observation would reveal that the real winner is perception – how good consumers perceive the product to be. Indeed, marketing communications, in its ideal state, should aim at fostering favourable consumer perception, which in other words is what many know as brand building.
Recommended Reading: Building Trust: 3 Leadership Lessons from Top Brands
A Damn Effective Approach
Brands are built through consumer perceptions, expectations, and experiences. The more favourable these indices are with regard to the consumer, the better things get for the company.
Typically, consumer perception borders on customer’s impression, awareness and/or consciousness of a company or its offerings and, in today’s market place, it is affected by advertising, reviews, public relations, social media, personal experiences and other channels. If marketing communication is therefore channeled at shaping perceptions, it can prove to be a more effective approach, since perceptions are one of the most difficult things to change.
In an article titled, “Having A Better Brand Is Better than Having A Better Product”, internationally acclaimed marketing guru, Al Ries, points to the power of consumer perception when he cited the case of J. K Rowling, British novelist, screenwriter and film producer, who is best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series.
Consumer Perception Is Still Reality
J.K. Rowling, who was the first author to become a billionaire by writing books, has had her “Harry Potter” books translated into 55 different languages in 200 countries and has sold more than 450 million copies. That is the picture of success by any standards. But when she decided to write a novel (The Cuckoo’s Calling) and had it published under a different name (Robert Galbraith), she had the shock of her life. Despite the so many reviews in favour of The Cuckoo’s Calling, it sold less than a thousand copies.
However, once the news made the rounds that the book was actually written by J.K. Rowling, it almost immediately jumped to the top of the best-seller list. In just a few months, the book sold 1.1 million copies, showing that, to a large extent, the consumer perception of the product (which, in this case, was shaped by the Harry Porter brand) was more important than the product (The Cuckoo’s Calling, in this case) itself.
On A Last Note
In view of the foregoing, while nurturing your brand asset, using the right channels, and being authentic, innovative, creative etc., still remain key in your marketing communications approach, a messaging strategy that builds favourable perception would go a long way to determine the success of your marketing efforts.
Nevertheless, you must always be ware of exaggerating your value propositions, because you will only have to waste lots of time and resources in trying to defend your position later.