Perceived quality is the quality of a product or service according to the customer’s perception. It is a subjective criterion and does not have to coincide with the actual or objective quality, which is based on tangible data such as raw materials, manufacturing process, warranty or after-sales service, etc.
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Types of quality
When implementing a good marketing strategy, we must bear in mind that, although real quality is more easily valued by the producer and has relevance in B2B relationships, perceived quality is what leads to the purchase. For this reason, and because of how this parameter affects the brand image of a company, it is necessary to work constantly to achieve a perceived high quality in each of the products or services with which we work.
In any case, we must not forget that perceived quality usually directs purchases because we do not always have the technical information or knowledge necessary to assess a product objectively. But that, once the acquisition has been made, objective quality becomes relevant since the customer can already effectively check the attributes of the product.
Attributes of perceived quality
The perceived quality depends on the attributes of the product, which can be divided into intrinsic (the characteristics themselves) and extrinsic (the values surrounding the product, such as packaging, branding, advertising promotion, etc.). The consumer gets a global idea from these attributes, among which we can highlight the following:
- Design. The first impression that produces what you want to sell is very important. It influences its practicality and even, in some sectors such as fashion or automotive, the image that the consumer wants to offer when using it. It is not only about aesthetic characteristics, also influence in this sense its durability, safety of use, etc.
- Packaging. Companies are increasingly aware of the influence that packaging has on product perception. Using recyclable or reusable materials, for example, can confer an impression of environmental awareness. Also, an exclusive case is usually synonymous with luxury. In products of habitual consumption, practicality and simplicity (like an easy opener) take on special relevance.
- Brand. Having a relevant brand behind you is essential in the launch of a new product or service. The consumer starts from the idea that no major brand would risk associating with something of poor quality and assumes that that product or service has an added value.
- Marketing actions. An adequate promotion can be decisive in the perception of the consumer. As in any marketing action, the main thing is to target the right audience, through the right channel and with the right message. In this case, the reviews and the role of influencers and prescribers is decisive.
- Price. We have a tendency to consider that something more expensive is of higher quality, although this is not always the case. Monetary value is a distorting factor that can be used as a marketing strategy. For example, it is very useful to sell something theoretically exclusive with an initial promotion that hooks the consumer.
How to measure perceived quality
Being a subjective perception, perceived quality can only be measured through direct consumer testimonials and purchase statistics. Among the most common actions to probe what is the opinion of the public about a product or service we can highlight the following:
- Direct actions, such as interviews and surveys.
- Reviews on the product page itself or in discussion forums.
- Focus group. These are sparsely conducted group interviews in which participants give their opinion freely and discuss some aspects.
- Employee reviews. It is very important to know the ratings of those who deal directly with customers: the staff of the company.
- Mistery shopper. It is a figure that is usually dedicated to evaluating the services of a company without the workers of the same knowing who it is, but sometimes it is also used to observe the attitude of consumers.
How to modify the perceived quality in a product
The perceived quality is a factor that must be controlled to the maximum, since, as we have said, it is what leads to the purchase. For this reason, if it is appreciated is negative, it is essential to work to reverse this impression and increase the subjective value.
There are several strategies to modify the perceived quality:
- Differentiate yourself from the competition. Specialization can help the customer perceive a product or service as something exclusive and of quality.
- Promote the benefits of the production process. Values such as environmentalism, equality, the promotion of local consumption, etc. can be exalted. Two companies that have taken advantage of this synergy are McDonalds, with the promotion of the consumption of Spanish meat, and Balay, which places its staff as spokespersons for a family and close business.
- Increase the price, although in moderation. In this case, the ideal is that there is also an improvement in the real quality so that the client does not feel cheated.
- Change the image of the product (naming, packaging, etc.) in order to give it greater authority.
- Use a free trial or inaugural promotion strategy. It is mainly used for the most exclusive products and services, which the customer perceives to be out of reach at a normal price. It is a crucial moment to get prescribers of the product.
- Establish alliances with other companies. The synergies that can be created favor both parties.
- Encourage testimonials that include positive opinions. Public reviews are especially valuable in sectors such as hospitality or travel.
- Work on reputation. It is a task of the marketing department in coordination with those responsible for public relations and communication. Here the media take on special relevance.
- Brand relaunch. It is related to the modification of the image of the product that we mentioned earlier. If something has not worked, it is recommended to monitor, correct, reinvent and launch again to erase the negative perception.