Perception occurs when sensory receptors receive stimuli and categories them and assign certain meanings to them, depending on the person’s frame of reference. A person’s frame of reference consists of all his previous held experiences, beliefs, likes, dislikes, feelings etc.
Elements of perception →
(i) Sensation – The immediate and direct response of the sensory organs to stimuli. A stimuli is any unit of input to any of the senses.
(ii) Absolute threshold – It is the lowest level at which an individual can experience a sensation. It is the difference between “something” or “nothing”.
(iii) Differential threshold – It is the minimal difference that can be detected between two similar stimuli. Also known as the just noticeable difference.
Weber’s Law – A law of psychophysics stating that the change necessary to produce a just noticeable difference is a constant proportion of the original stimuli.
∆ 1 / 1 = K
Where ∆ 1 = the smallest increase in the stimuli intensity from existing
1 = existing stimuli intensity
K = constant that varies across senses
(iv) Sublimation Perception – Perception of very weak or rapid stimuli below the level of conscious awareness.
Information flow through frame of reference
Aspects of Perception →
(A) Selection – Consumers are subconsciously selective as to what they perceive stimulus selected depends on two factors –
♦ Consumer’s previous experiences
♦ Consumer’s motives
Selection depends upon :
♦ Nature of stimulus
♦ Expectations of the customer
♦ Motives of the customer
Concepts of selection →
♦ Selective exposure – Consumers seek out messages which are pleasant, messages they can sympathize with or messages which reassure them
♦ Selective attention – Heightened awareness when stimuli meet their needs. Consumers prefer different messages and medium.
♦ Perceptual defence – Consumers screen out stimuli which they perceive as threatening
♦ Perceptual blocking – Consumers avoid being bombarded by advertisements and protect themselves by tuning out i.e. blocking a stimuli from conscious awareness
Factors determining attention →
♦ Stimulus factors – The stimuli present
♦ Size and intensity – Size and intensity of the message
♦ Colour, movement and contrast – Colour, movement and contrast of the advertisement
♦ Situational factors – External environment of the consumer
♦ Psychological factors – Consumers psychological make-up and internal factors
(B) Organisation – Consumers tend to organize different stimuli into groups and perceive them as separate and distinct sensations . They organize perceptions into figure-ground relationships and form a unified picture.
Principles of organisation →
Figure and ground relationship – People tend to organize perceptions into figure and ground relationship. The ground is usually hazy. Marketers design symbols and figure so it is noticed by the stimuli.
Grouping – People group stimuli to form a unified impression or concept. It helps memory and recall.
Closure – People have a need for closure and organize perceptions to form a complete picture and often fill the missing pieces. Incomplete messages are remembered more than complete.
(C) Interpretation – A stimuli may be weak or strong depending upon its visibility, exposure, noise level, distance and viewing angles. Therefore an individual`s interpretation of a stimuli may be influenced by the strength and positioning of the stimulus.
Perceptual distortion – It refers to the distortion of information by consumers so that it conforms to their beliefs and attitudes.
Distorting influences →
- Physical appearance
- First impressions
- Jumping to conclusions
- Halo effect
Positioning – Establishing a specific image for a brand in the consumer’s mind.
Perceptual Mapping – A research technique that enables markets to plot graphically consumer’s perceptions concerning product attributes of specific branches.
Perceived Risk – The degree of uncertainty perceived by the consumer as to the consequences of a specific purchase decision.
Types of Risk →
Functional Risk – Risk that a product may not work as expected
Financial Risk – Risk that the product will not be value for money
Psychological Risk – Risk that the product may not solve a purpose or satisfy a need
Physical Risk – Physical threats a product may pose
Time Risk – Risk that the time spent on in the product may be wasted if the product does not perform as expected.
Consumer perception process
How consumers handle risk →
- Consumers seek for more information when they associate high degree or risk with the purchase.
- Avoid risk by staying brand loyal
- They select products by brand image
- They rely on store image
- They buy the most expensive model
- They seek reassurance when uncertain about the product choice