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 →
Jumping to conclusions
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
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