When you’re running a business, the way potential customers perceive you should always be at the top of your mind. Consumer perception is affected by everything you do.
What makes customers loyal to a brand?
It’s been shown that quality, customer service, and pricing are the top three factors influencing brand loyalty.
But what if your brand is doing great in these areas, and your customers just aren’t seeing it?
That’s where consumer perception comes in.
To run a successful business, you need to do more than just provide a great service — you need to prove it to customers.
This article discusses exactly why customer perception of your business is so important, which factors influence perception, and how you can improve the perception of your business.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, you need to read this guide.
Why Should You Be Thinking About Consumer Perception?
Almost half of Americans don’t trust brands as much as they did 20 years ago, and 48% said brands need a strong identity and clear role.
With so much distrust, consumer perception of your brand is more important than ever.
Do you want customers to see you as dishonest, greedy, and soulless? Or as a company with strong values, a clear direction, and a positive brand image?
If it’s the latter, you’re in luck.
We’re going to give you an in-depth explanation of the factors that affect consumer perception, and details on how to improve your brand image.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to take steps to increase customer trust and loyalty, boost sales, and increase your profits.
What Affects Consumer Perception?
Customer perception isn’t influenced by just one factor — it’s a result of everything your brand says, does, and puts out into the world.
Whether it’s a new packaging design, a controversial social media post, or a special holiday offer, absolutely everything your brand does affects customer perception.
Imagine you’re comparing two bottles of wine. One costs $10, and the other costs $500. Do you have a different perception of the two brands? Of course you do — product pricing is one of the largest factors affecting perceptions of your brand.
The effects of pricing on your reputation can vary, however, making it more of an art than a science.
In some cases, high prices convey luxury, quality, and excellent customer experience. In others, they might seem out-of-touch, snobby, and unrealistic.
On the other side of the coin, low prices might attract customers looking for a bargain, or drive away customers worried about quality issues.
However you decide to price your products, remember that it has a huge influence on how others see your brand.
Product packaging has a big influence on how customers view your brand — so much so that it can be considered a selling point in itself. Everything from color, design, text, eco-friendliness, and sturdiness will affect consumer opinions.
Luxury products might be packaged in black and gold, while budget options will stick to basic colors like black, white and red.
Packaging for expensive tech products will usually be sturdy and secure, to reflect the quality of the product. Items aimed at environmentally-conscious consumers will be packaging in recycled materials, using colors like green and brown.
Packaging could be the first contact many customers have with your brand — make sure you get it right.
Ever had to send a product back because the quality was so bad? How’s your perception of that brand now? Chances are, not good.
Product quality has a massive effect on brand perception — it’s a no-brainer. The quality of your products should match your pricing, branding, and the promises you make about your product. That doesn’t mean that everything you sell has to be the best quality in the world -it just has to meet customer expectations.
For a luxury brand, that might mean the best quality in the industry. For a budget chain, it might be a product that works well but doesn’t have any fancy features.
Does your product quality accurately reflect your brand?
Brand Values and Ethics
Buying from a brand isn’t just about getting hold of something you need.
It’s also an emotional experience — and one that should leave customers feeling good about themselves.
Your brand values and ethics have a big role to play when it comes to consumer perception and how customers feel after buying from you.
If your company is known for fair treatment of workers, generous charity donations, and a commitment to reducing pollution, customers should feel pretty good about buying your products.
On the other hand, if you’re known for treating workers badly, overpriced products, and damaging the environment, public perception of your brand will suffer.
If you want to be successful, ethics should play a big part in your branding.
Brand History and Reputation
Have you ever suffered a brand scandal? Does your company have a less-than-stellar history?
If you’ve had issues with your reputation in the past, it will take some work to improve perceptions of your brand — but it’s not impossible.
It’s been shown that taking responsibility for what went wrong, communicating honestly, and doing everything you can to correct problems goes a long way towards fixing a damaged reputation.
If you’ve never suffered a scandal, don’t get too complacent.
Having a solid communications strategy in place makes sense for all brands, as you never know when controversy may strike — especially in the age of social media.
Online and Offline Presence
Other than seeing your product or service in stores or ads, where do consumers encounter your brand?
Do you sponsor sporting events? Run active social media accounts?
Host live campaigns or events?
Every single time a customer encounters your brand online or offline, their perception of you is influenced.
Making sure that your marketing strategy is coherent and whole is a smart move.
If customers see a billboard ad that presents your brand in one way, then check your Twitter account and see a totally different brand image, they won’t be impressed.
A coherent brand image is essential to trust and loyalty.
How Does Consumer Perception Affect Your Business?
So, you now know more about the factors that affect the way customers see your brand.
But how exactly will consumer perception influence your bottom line?
Is it really worth spending time working on perception?
The answer is a definite yes — keep reading to find out how consumer perception influences customer loyalty, trust, and buying decisions.
Boosts Customer Loyalty
When customers feel negative or neutral about your business, they won’t be loyal to you.
Sure, they might buy your products occasionally — but they won’t hesitate to switch to a competitor when they see a better price, nicer packaging, or enticing special offer.
When you build a strong brand image, customers enter into a relationship with you.
They’ll stay loyal to your brand even when others try to tempt them away, and they’re more likely to recommend your products and services to others.
Think about that one brand you always buy from.
Chances are they’ve worked hard at influencing your perception of them — and they’re rewarded with increased sales and loyalty.
Increases Customer Trust
When your favorite brand puts out a statement, do you believe it?
Of course you do.
What about your least favorite brand?
Customer trust is massive when it comes to purchase decision making.
If your brand comes across as trustworthy, consumers will believe the promises you make about your products.
If not, they’ll likely be skeptical, and might choose to buy from a brand with a better reputation instead — particularly when making large or important purchases.
The better public perception of your business, the easier you will find it to influence your customers — whether it’s to buy from you, to share your content on social media, or to recommend your brand to friends and family.
If customer trust for your brand is lacking, creating a targeted campaign aimed at boosting trust is a smart move.
Influences Buying Decisions
You’re trying to choose between two laptops.
One is made by a company with awesome packaging, fair prices, and strong brand values.
The other is cheaper and more powerful, but it’s sold by a brand with ugly packaging, a history of brand scandals, and suspiciously low prices.
It’s no surprise that you’re more likely to pick the first — even though the second option is actually a better laptop at a much lower price.
Consumer perception has a huge impact on buying decisions, which means it has a huge effect on your profits.
Improving consumer perception of your brand is the single best way to boost sales and increase your turnover.
How Can You Improve the Perception of Your Brand?
You know how important consumer perception is.
But how exactly do you improve perceptions of your brand?
Some careful rebranding combined with targeted online and offline marketing can turn your company’s image around pretty quickly — keep reading for details.
If your brand doesn’t have a strong identity yet, this is the place you need to start.
Your brand identity is made up of all elements you use to generate an image of yourself to your customers.
You might want to look at:
- Tone of voice
Using these elements and more, you can put together a brand style guide for all employees to refer to.
This ensures that your brand identity stays consistent across all channels, and prevents any errors or confusion.
A solid brand identity helps customers remember you, makes you stand out from other companies and clearly communicates your values.
With so much business taking place online nowadays, your website is a key tool in improving consumer perception of your brand.
The design of your website should adhere to the brand style guide you’ve created, and the content should help further support your brand image.
That might mean creating a blog that highlights your charitable activities, having a special deals page, or offering educational materials relevant to your customers.
Your website should be easy to navigate, optimized for use on all devices, and accessible to everyone.
Your website will be the first place most people go if they want to learn more about your brand, so make sure it creates a great first impression.
Social Media Presence
Creating a strong social media presence is an excellent way to improve the day-to-day perception of your brand.
With the ability to post regular updates, you can keep customers in the loop about what you’re doing, and post updates that reflect your brand image and values.
You might offer special social media-only competitions, post updates about your use of ethical materials, or share positive feedback from customers.
Social media is also a great place to connect with influencers, who can lend your brand credibility and trust.
Your social media team may also be responsible for customer service.
Remember that the whole world can see how you respond to questions and complaints on social media, so it’s your chance to shine.
While the internet is a great place to build your image, you shouldn’t neglect print media.
Distributing materials like flyers, business cards, and leaflets is an excellent way to stand out. While there are millions of brands online, not all of them manage to get physical materials into the hands of their customers.
Make sure that your print materials follow your brand style guide, or they’ll clash with your other efforts.
How to Start Improving Consumer Perception
If you don’t have much experience with improving consumer perception, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now.
Luckily, there are loads of creative agencies which specialize in building your brand image and improving consumer perception of your company.
If you’re serious about increasing your profits and winning more loyal customers, getting in touch with the experts makes sense.
Take the first step towards a more successful brand, and contact us today.