fbpx

What is Perceived Quality? Ultimate Guide

What is perceived quality featured image
Perceived quality is an important factor in any purchasing decision. Image credit: Jonathan Francisca

It’s interesting when you think about which brands we use and why. This is without even realising if they’re the best bang for buck, or if they’re as “effective” as we think they are. This comes down to perceived quality.

It’s relatively safe to say that all of us have some sort of unexplained bias towards certain brands, regardless of all the shiny alternatives out there. It’s almost as if it’s a matter of sheer belief.

This is what the top marketing eggheads call perceived quality.

It’s as effective in the marketing field as it is interesting. That is, the reasons that consumers prefer some brands over others are not always totally clear.

But to get a better picture of what perceived quality is and how it can sway even the most stubborn of potential buyers, we’re gonna have to give it a proper definition first. Let’s start with the basics.

What is Perceived Quality?

Perceived quality is the consumer’s overall dedication and satisfaction with a product or a service. Specifically, with regards to its supposed function or its overall image.

So going along that train of thought, one can say that perceived quality is an intangible measure of the overall quality of a product, almost purely based on the belief that it is the best in its niche to the consumer. Even if there is no rational basis for this.

So you’ll see the vast majority of people around the world drinking Coke or Pepsi, regardless of how good the alternatives might be.

Factors influencing perceived quality infographic
A number of factors contribute to customers' perceptions of quality. Image credit: SlideShareCDN

Similarly, different car brands have different reputations for quality. These are often decades old, and might bear no relationship to their quality in the present day. Some people just prefer the brand of car that their parents drove.

There are so many seemingly random factors that can drive consumers to a brand. And as an interested marketeer, it’d do you well to learn how to properly pull those strings if you want your brand or business to skyrocket.

The Mystery Behind the Magic

Anyone who’s anyone who was in the marketing industry knows that a force akin to perceived quality is nothing to scoff at, even for a second.

Perceived quality is often a massive influence on overall ROI for most of the major brands out there.

It only makes sense to assume that if a person could stop and pick up a product under your banner without much of a thought process as to whether or not to actually buy it, it’s because they see it as the be-all-end-all for their purposes.

More often than not, quality is more a subjective matter than it is an objective one. A brand could have every right to boast its overall quality, backed with empirical evidence that’s widely available for all to see.

But it can’t complain if the consumer slides by it and goes for something that may or may not be inferior in quality in a second’s notice.

A consumer’s thoughts on whether or not something is any good is something we can never accurately gauge. Indeed, perceived quality is an intangible metric that brands benefit from.

The objective quality of a product or service pales in comparison when put up against subjective quality. Moods, character type, random conditions and many other aspects that each and every consumer has are what govern perceived quality ultimately.

It’s interesting to note a few things in the same realm of perceived quality.

Brands always have the capability to flip the perceived quality for their products from red to green in a moment’s notice. Branding activities are any company’s greatest weapon when it comes to swaying the tides of consumer perception.

This is why premium soft drinks use heavier plastic in their bottles, even when there is no rational reason to do so.

Through refining aspects such as customer service, guides, overall product improvements or discounts, brands can easily manipulate the populace to grab their stuff much easier.

A decision to extend warranties on automobiles or electronics, discounts on various after purchase services such as maintenance and product servicing, or even slashing the price for a limited time can dramatically improve perceived quality.

Perceived quality infographic
Customer often only consider the front line of your brand relations, but the back end support still makes a difference indirectly. Image credit: Promoter.io

Factors of Perceived Quality

It’s not all just senseless splurging and sporadic sales though.

Typically, your common garden-variety consumer still has a few conditions in place when they’re planning to put their money in a product.

Performance

Performance is a key governing aspect when it comes to perceived quality and how fast a customer is going to reach for any brand over the vast selection of other, potentially better products out there.

Any sensible consumer will want to get the most out of whatever it is they’re buying. They have a need and need it filled. So it’s a brand’s job to make sure that whatever they have on offer boasts the most performance a consumer can get.

Features

Secondly, you should be going for appealing and worthwhile features.

Having an adequate and appealing assortment of features can significantly boost consumer trust and perceived quality, almost more than anything else.

Conformity with Specifications

Are you actually getting what’s advertised? Nothing undermines perceived quality like false advertisement. Indeed, conformity with specifications play a massive role when it comes to fortifying perceived quality.

A scrupulous consumer wants to make sure they’re getting what they’re seeing after all.

Reliability

The user experience that you as a consumer are going to have with any product or service should always remain consistent. You don’t want to notice a sudden drop in quality, nor do you want defective products ruining your brand image.

The customer is always right. And they’re, more or less, ever vigilant. And their perceived quality of any product or service relies on its constant reliability over its time in the consumers’ hands.

So you can see how this can seriously affect perceived quality, which ultimately is a vague metric for overall product quality when you think about it.

Durability

Durability, no doubt, is one of the quicker gauges for perceived quality, in addition to overall quality, really. If a product, regardless of its nature or application, can withstand continuous use or exceptionally strenuous use, then you can bet your absolute bottom dollar that its customers will be as numerous as they are dedicated to the brand responsible.

It’s always a good quality to boast and an even greater quality to actually have. One should always expect consumers will put their product or service through the ringer when it comes to their various applications. 

Serviceability

Brands have been increasingly making sure that their products and services always have a ready and able support and customer service system in place.

You do not want angry consumers. Not only will you lose customers who are well within their right to complain, they’ll spread the word. Like wildfire, you’ll see your consumer base dwindle over a scarily short amount of time.

So having adequate serviceability is obviously a massive impact on perceived quality. Especially that of the good princess.

Fit and Finish

You’ll have no doubt went to get something from the store at some point in your life and spotted something with an appealing package or an assortment of attractive colours.

Even if it’s something that’s ultimately inferior or serves you no purpose for whatever you think it offers, you’ll probably have picked it up. People like pretty things, plain and simple.

So adding an element of appeal and panache when it comes to presenting your wares will definitely bump up the perceived quality people will give your brand. And the princess will no doubt give you a boon or four.

Psychology and Perceived Quality

Let’s put the mind of the consumer on centre stage. There’s a thing or two you could learn about how simple psychology can impact the perceived quality any product has.

Now, in a previous point in this article, lowering prices was referenced. Although if your head’s still in the game, you’ll notice we said “for a limited time.” Consider furniture brands which seem to be permanently on end of season sales.

This is because people generally assume that if a product in a sea of similar products is on offer for a lower price, it implies that it may be a budget option. People don’t like cheap products, more often than not.

Playing with this concept in a variety of ways is how brands can sometimes boost their sales and revenue strategically.

You can find many brands dropping limited editions of things they usually offer, only with a slightly different and perhaps more attractive appearance, and with a jarringly higher price tag.

Perceived quality rational and emotional factors
Your brain makes both rational and emotional judgements about products. Image credit: LytronDesign

Perceived Quality and Customer Experience

But with luxury goods, brand owners put a lot of resources and planning into the experience leading up to a sale. The most obvious example here is automotive companies and how their dealerships tend to their customers’ user satisfaction with the pre-process.

Posh, stylish surroundings and fixtures, exceptional service at a whim, refined or sophisticated music playing in the background and other similar trappings create an atmosphere of comfort, trust and massive perceived quality.

The potential new driver of a shiny new sports car glides along the floor from the dealership door to the car door much more smoothly when enticed to put the money down.

It should be obvious that the perceived quality of a product is a personal and subjective gauge of how good something is. Smart brands know how to work this to their advantage.

A few trimmings here and a couple of neon streaks there, and you can guide your consumers along a path from the door to the register with relative ease. It’s no big secret that companies put a lot of effort into playing with perceived quality for the better of the brand.

Customer experience infographic
Perceived quality is highly tied up with the experience your customers have of your brand. Image credit: GoSurvey

Levelling the Playing Field

So we’ve more or less established that perceived quality can generally be used as a metric for the overall quality of a brand’s product line. But is that enough to create a strong brand?

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is that smart brand managers and marketing pros utilise the perceptions of quality as part of a wider brand strategy.

A lot of resources go into shaping the quality of products in accordance with people’s needs and preferences.

Here are the three main levers you can pull to achieve this.

Communication

Transparency is a wonderful thing. Brand owners achieve this in the form of conveying all relevant information about their products smoothly and clearly.

Putting adequate effort into advertisements is also crucial. You want your brand’s image to be out there, and on as many platforms as sensibly possible for it to achieve the appropriate air time it deserves.

More exposure means more sales. It’s no wonder that companies pour massive amounts of resources into advertisement and sales promotion. Adding a personal touch is just as formidable as well.

Communicating with the consumer on a personal level about the product or the service on offer not only bolsters overall customer satisfaction, but it’s also a good opportunity for both parties to learn.

The company gets to understand its consumer, and the consumer gets a better, more appealing idea of what they’re about to buy. Along with a bunch of other handy dandy techniques that brand owners use as their bread and butter.

Modesty

It’s one thing to convey all the positive aspects that your product might have on offer, but it’s another thing to start blowing hot air at your customers.

Your product should speak for itself through and through. Painting a less believable picture of a product can only detract from the overall user experience the consumer is going to have.

As previously mentioned, perceived quality is an intangible aspect almost purely governed by the mind. So it does no service to your brand image to pump it up when it can already do that without the need for boasting.

It’ll give off the impression that it may be an inferior product or a less than valuable service that relies mostly on good marketing, and not actual quality. You’re aiming to match your actual quality with perceived quality.

Brands like Apple, Audi and British Airways are great examples of this. They have a high perceived quality, because they actually offer quality to their customers.

Sensibility

It’s just as important to make the right marketing and sales decisions as any of the other techniques a brand can employ to improve their image.

Making sure that the pricing is reasonable and not intimidating, for example, is a good strategy in any situation. Ironing out any issues pertaining to your warranty strategy is also a great idea.

People generally enjoy knowing that help is available if something goes wrong.

What is Perceived Quality? Key Takeaways

It should be more obvious now that any brand’s financial performance is directly and strongly linked to its perceived quality. They feed into each other, in addition to boosting each other continuously.

It’s not a strange concept that an intangible measurement such as perceived quality has this much of an impact on a brand’s very identity.

This is based on what the customer generally wants, according to their own individual personalities, character and various preferences.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
WhatsApp
Email

Share

Table of Contents