Customer perception is everything

Posted On 31/7/2023

Culture is crucial when it comes to understanding the needs and behaviours of an individual. Throughout his existence, an individual will be influenced by his family, his friends, his cultural environment or society that will “teach” him values, preferences as well as common behaviours to their own culture.

For a brand, it is important to understand and take into account the cultural factors inherent to each market or to each situation in order to adapt its product and its marketing strategy. As these will play a role in the perception, habits, behaviour or expectations of consumers.

For example, in the West, it is common to invite colleagues or friends at home for a drink or dinner. In Japan, on the contrary, invite someone home does not usually fit into the local customs. It is preferable to do that this kind of outing with friends or colleagues in restaurant.

A significant specificity to take into account for the brands in markets such as savoury snacking or sodas and alcoholic beverages. Usage and consumption moments are not the same in all regions of the world.

As we know, if customers have a poor or negative feeling about your brand then it’s very difficult to change it without a real focus. In the hyper sensitive world of social media your brand and how you respond to your customers’ issues has become increasingly important to manage and defend.

Why negative perceptions arise – In most cases they exist because you have not lived up to your customers’ expectations – the service was poor, the food was bad, the quality is not that good. In some instances, issues arise when brands with a particular image try to do different things and appeal to different audiences. Here the issue is more fundamental as the perceptions can often challenge the original brand itself.

If we take a look at recent events from the banks, for example, we can see how you can undermine you brand and very quickly turn your customers against you.

On the high street, we are currently seeing how certain brands which have been around for years are now struggling as many people feel they are old and tired and not relevant to the internet age.

So how do you go about tackling some of these issues? What do brands need to focus on and how do you change perceptions?

1. Challenge negative perceptions as soon as they arise, defend your brand and manage its reputation, especially in the face of negative feedback on service and quality. If you are a service business this is where you should focus all of your efforts. Customer feedback should be actively sought through questionnaires, feedback forms, mystery shopping and via your social media channels. If you embrace negative feedback and encourage comments then you can do something about them. Don’t bury your head in the sand and expect them to go away. Take a look at Trip Advisor and look at what people are saying about hotels and you will see how important it is to be living and breathing your customers’ experiences. Retailers should also take note. If people are not in your store then they may be in your competitors’ for good reason.

2. Focus on your brand values and positioning, as this is key to demonstrating your true brand value. Tell us through advertising what a great product you are producing based on extensive research and listening to your customers.

3. Focus on the customer and listen to their issues – research and customer feedback are key. I have already talked about the importance of listening to your customers but again you need to make sure you have a very proactive approach embedded in sound market research. It’s no good you thinking or believing something. It should be spoken by your customers. Focus on what they say and you will not go far wrong.

4. Never get complacent. This in many respects the first rule of brand. One mistake can end it all. So don’t expect things to stay the same.

5. Communicate your message and own your brand perception. If the first rule of brand is never get complacent then the second must be communicate or lose your identity. There is not an excuse to simply ignore your customer base and expect them to remember you because you have been around for a long time. Here you should challenge the misconceptions head on. Don’t run away from them, turn them into positives. It’s difficult but there are plenty of creative ways you can do it.

But don’t forget that individuals focus only on a few details or stimulus to which they are subjected. The type of information or stimuli to which an individual is more sensitive depends on the person.

For brands and advertisers successfully capture and retain the attention of consumers is increasingly difficult. For example, many users no longer pay any attention, unconsciously, to banner ads on the Internet. This kind of process is called Banner Blindness.

The attention level also varies depending on the activity of the individual and the number of other stimuli in the environment. For example, an individual who is bored during a subway trip will be much more attentive to a new ad displayed in the tube. It is a new stimulus that breaks the trip routine for him.

Consumers will also be much more attentive to stimuli related to a need. For example, a consumer who wishes to buy a new car will pay more attention to car manufacturers’ ads, while neglecting those for computers.

Lastly, people are more likely to be attentive to stimuli that are new or out of the ordinary. For example, an innovative advertising or a marketing message widely different from its competitors is more likely to be remembered by consumers.

It’s always about the brand? So perception is everything and it’s up to you to ensure that you are in control of yours. Focus on your customers and their comments, communicate at all times, research proactively and if you need to challenge and move into new markets fundamentally review your brand perceptions and own them.