Consumer Perceptions: Gaining a Competitive Edge with Customer Data
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Consumer Perceptions: Gaining a Competitive Edge with Customer Data

A brand needs to be aware of what customers think about its products and services to keep improving and creating a loyal customer base. This awareness is essential as consumer perceptions about your brand will determine whether customers continue to do business with you. A customer experience report revealed that over 50% of customers shift to another brand just after a single bad experience with a brand. Therefore, if you carry on with your business without knowing the customer perceptions of your brand, you risk losing a large chunk of customers.

However, understanding consumer perceptions is challenging since it varies from one customer to another and is subjective in nature. This article will serve as a detailed guide to help you understand the importance of consumer perception and how to measure it effectively.

What is Consumer Perception?

Simply speaking, consumer perception is what your customers think about your business. It is the opinions, feelings, and beliefs they have about your brand. Not all customer thoughts are of value. Only those opinions that they form about you and your competitors, and the opinions about other aspects that could influence their purchasing behaviors, are important.

Customer perception plays a significant role in attracting new customers, maintaining positive relationships with existing customers, and building brand reputation. All of these contribute to customer loyalty, customer retention, and the success of your enterprise.

Let’s take a closer look at why customer perceptions are crucial to succeeding in a competitive marketplace.

Importance of Consumer Perception for a Brand

84% of brands reported an increase in revenue with investments in CX and consumer perceptions, which directly impacts a company’s bottom line. Suppose a customer is unhappy with your service and decides not to do business with you. The loss of a single customer might seem like a slight loss, but this negative perception will make him shift to your competitors and share his unfavorable opinions with his friends. This, in turn, will fuel negative consumer perceptions about your brand. The significance of consumer perceptions is further illustrated in the following points:

Consumer perceptions impact brand image

People share their positive and negative buying experiences with their friends and family. Word-of-mouth publicity is the best form of publicity a brand can get. People trust other customers’ experiences above any form of marketing. Negative customer reviews over time can establish a poor brand image, and that is a reputation no enterprise can afford. Thus, consumer perceptions about your brand cannot be ignored.

Consumer perceptions determine purchasing decisions

You may have the best product in the market and offer competitive prices. But if your company faces poor consumer perceptions because of other factors such as customer support, you will find that the product sale is not as expected. This is because customers will choose a more expensive alternative if the service is superior. Moreover, they are more likely to share poor experiences than good ones, which can drive potential customers away.

Factors Influencing Consumer Perceptions

The primary factors that influence consumer perceptions are listed below:

Customer Experience

Customers’ personal experiences while buying or using a brand’s products or services significantly impact their perceptions of that brand. The product quality, ease of use, customer service, discounts, deals, etc. can make their overall shopping experience excellent.

65% of customers agree that a positive brand experience has more influence compared to great advertising. Quality CX leaves an everlasting impression on their minds, translating into positive consumer perceptions.

Advertising Campaigns

A company’s advertising and marketing campaigns to promote its products also influence the customers’ purchasing decisions. Some impactful advertisements by major brands over the years have led to extremely positive consumer perceptions that still persist.

Voice of Customer

Customer reviews are one of the most important factors affecting customer perceptions. In this age of digital commerce, most people buy products after reading reviews about both the product and the brand. When they hear something negative from some other customer or see that the product has a lower rating, they instantly form a negative impression of that product in their mind.

Social Media

Instagram is the biggest social media platform for conducting marketing campaigns and managing customer perceptions. With ad spending skyrocketing, ads on Instagram stories alone will be generating around $15.95 billion globally in 2022.

The content you post on varied platforms helps build a connection with your target audience. Word travels much faster on social media platforms, and most companies use it to create a positive brand image.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is gaining immense popularity in the current times, with the effectiveness of social media marketing. People prefer to buy products recommended by influential people. Thus, influencers can send a positive message about your products to their wide follower base. This helps in creating a positive sentiment around your brand.

Even though sentiment is subjective to individual customers and their individual experiences, consumer perceptions can be monitored, measured, and actioned upon. As a result of effective influencer marketing, 46% of customers complete purchases both online and offline.

Measuring Consumer Perceptions

You cannot rely on assumptions as far as consumer perceptions are concerned. It is far too important for your brand’s growth to understand what customers think about your products clearly. Customers’ varied opinions and feedback about your brand make consumer perceptions difficult to gauge. However, there are techniques by which brands can monitor perceptions and get valuable customer insights.

Here are the different ways to measure consumer perception:

Customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT)

What better way to know what customers think than to ask them straight away? Customer satisfaction surveys allow customers to rate your product or service quantitatively.

Collect data to get insights into your customers’ lives and what they need. After knowing your target audience well, you can deliver to their expectations with products they can identify with, and improve consumer perceptions through quality CX.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a metric that measures how likely your customers are to recommend your products to others. It primarily focuses on how your customers feel about your brand rather than their recent buying experience with you.

NPS surveys can be conducted every six months to gauge consumer sentiments accurately. These insights will help you determine what needs to be done to change negative customer perceptions and make them advocate for your brand.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

This is another metric used to measure consumer perceptions. It does so by indicating how easily a customer could complete a transaction or resolve an issue, and the ease of use of the product. The CES survey can include questions like, “How easy was it to contact customer care?” and “Which part was the most time-consuming in the process?” The responses can help you to identify areas of improvement and fill the gaps.

Read online reviews

Online customer reviews are the most immediate and direct source of information to find out what people are saying about your brand and products. Read the reviews and send the information back to product teams. Address the issues highlighted in the reviews through improved offerings and services, thereby enhancing consumer perceptions and CX.

Monitor social media

Your interactions with users and conversations about your brand on social media platforms can give you a clear idea about your brand image. Engage with your target audience, gather insights into competitors, understand your brand associations, identify trends on social media platforms, and build a better social presence to create a positive consumer sentiment.

Managing Consumer Perceptions with Course5

At Course5 Intelligence we frequently enable our clients to tap into the power of Customer Needs Analysis, Customer Journey Analysis, Customer Experience Analytics, and Social Media Analytics. These contribute immensely to a data-backed understanding of consumer perceptions and consumer preferences, helping companies deliver personalized experiences.

State-of-the-art AI solutions, with Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing capabilities, automate the process of data collection and analysis. Both structured and unstructured data, which also includes customer feedback in natural language, are collected. Segmented and analyzed in near real-time, the advantages afforded are immense. Campaigns can be perfected, outreach can be optimized, and ROI can be maximized. All that is needed, is an understanding of customer sentiment, supported by contextual data.

Case Studies: Analyzing Consumer Perception with Course5

Digital media data is one of the prominent data sets to be analyzed for identifying consumer associations and perceptions. A leading US technology company was looking to understand consumer perceptions and brand associations that were organically appearing on social and other digital media platforms. Course5 tracked their performance across the digital landscape and provided the client with a view of how the brand was being perceived across digital channels.  

Course5 delivered insights that were in line with the client’s expectations and some new insights that enabled the client to revaluate their digital strategies. While the brand was positively perceived for its product performance and competitive prices; issues such as low battery life, buggy updates, and poor customer support were garnering negative impressions and demanded immediate redressal.

With product reviews forming a crucial source of data for estimating customer perceptions, Course5 was able to help a leading multinational CPG company to understand customer experience and sentiments across electric toothbrush brands.

Course5 fetched product reviews from leading e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Walmart. A framework was set up to provide a structure to unstructured data, based on different variables. Ontology and taxonomy creation further helped to classify the data into relevant segments, to help python scripts segment the data further based on user experience and customer sentiment.

A deep dive into individual feature attributes revealed that the majority of consumers were attracted to the products in question, based on advanced technology features which impacted the products’ effectiveness. The user experience and customer perceptions were identified and mapped out across the varied usage segments, helping the client gain a clear understanding of consumer sentiments in the market.

Customer support data is another valuable source of consumer perception insight. Course5 was able to help a LATAM client’s Consumer Affairs Team identify consumer pain points, perceptions, satisfaction, and expectations, from their in-house database and secondary sources.

Analysis of the customer support data revealed insights into customer pain points and expectations, which revolved around product quality and product packaging respectively. With the report clearly identifying the main drivers of pain points, and potential business opportunities, the client was able to optimize products and their packaging, elevating consumer perceptions surrounding their brand.

Managing consumer perceptions becomes easy as soon as brands start seeing things from the point of view of their customers rather than from their own. Gather data to understand your customers, their motivations, and their challenges. The more you empathize with them, the better you can serve them. Work towards building meaningful relationships with your customers, and consumer perceptions will organically improve.