Thursday, January 10, 2013

Price, quality etc – which criteria do you think can best be used to influence your customer?

Do you think that your customers patronize you because your price is right? Have you been made to believe that giving constant coupons and discounts is a sign that your products are top quality and better than other brands? Consumers have various theories about what the market and marketing is all about. Some would tell you that when the price of a product is low, then that product is of low quality. On the other hand, some would claim that they had a poor deal when the price of a product is high while others would also claim that a high price means that product has a high quality.

Advertising and marketing can influence customers for good or bad. Halcyon/
These are naïve theories, consumer research experts tell us, but they are the wont of the market. Because of these myriad of thoughts in the mind of your customer it is important that sellers, marketers and advertisers be careful when trying to influence the public.

If you try to influence your customers using price, your strategy would backfire based on labeling. If you tried using label and people influence, your strategy might backfire based on price or even the perception of that particular product in the market, which perception has been created by another company who must wield huge influence in the market.

Bias cues shape perception.

Hmm! That makes the work of marketers and consumers difficult, not so? It is difficult for marketers because they want you to buy the products they have on sale. It is difficult for consumers because they do not make decisions based on their thinking, but also on their budget and the perception of others.

These factors are what consumer researchers call “bias cues”, or attributes that help shape consumer perception and buying decisions. Bias cues could be price-, label- or quality-based. These cues could be correctly interpreted by the market, such as when consumers believe that low prices for a product is a signal of low quality. They could also be incorrectly interpreted by the market, such as when they believe that the high price of some orange juice with an attractive label is a signal of high quality. To make matters even more interesting, these bias cues could be meaningless at best. Have you ever wondered why companies decorate children’s shoes with shining lights? So, what theory do marketers and consumers work with? As for consumers, they have a variety of deceptive naïve theories about prices and products and can deceive any marketer who attempts to deliver a product message based on consumer perception.

Yet, some marketers have developed workable rules of practice.

Be careful when trying to influence their perception.

Some marketers have found that consumers might think a product is expensive when it is grouped with other expensive products. This is called the discrimination mentality and is evident when setting prices. Your customers might either discriminate on the price of a product when they make general inferences about that product because it is grouped amongst similar but expensive products.
These set of customers are usually ill-informed about the product quality or reputation and depend on this sort of categorization. On the other hand, some customers will ignore this categorization and concentrate on the salient features of a product even when grouped with expensive and similar products because they have a little more knowledge about the product, especially where similar brands are well known. Marketers should be careful when setting prices based on categorizations else they end up being accused of deceptive practices by customers.

It has also been found that people perceive or think a product is expensive if a relative or friend buys it cheap. On the other hand, if a stranger or someone distant to them buys it cheap, they might believe the product is cheap and maybe a good deal than if they had bought it themselves. What this means to marketers is that influencing consumers perception of your product quality and price through relatives or friends might really backfire.

The market has also found that because you have a higher knowledge about the market than consumers, you can deceive them by tweaking their perception of a product. consumers cannot be deceived twice. If a marketing gimmick can successfully make consumers think that a low-priced product is of high quality when it is not, they can learn from their mistakes when making repeat purchases. Keep that in mind when trying to influence your consumers. Decorating children shoes with colorful lights or other meaningless cues that excite emotions can give you sales today, but if you fail to meet their expectations, your marketing might eventually backfire.

As a rule: do not depend on consumer perceptions or their naïve beliefs about market prices and product quality as a guide in marketing your products.

Stop press: The worst deception is giving your customers reward that they would not need, or that are useless to them. I received one recently. After buying a popular brand of toothpaste here in Nigeria, I discovered that I was rewarded with a toothbrush which use caused pain to my gums. What humanity!
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