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Perception

“Perception is the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting information. This process includes the perception of select stimuli that pass through our perceptual filters, are organized into our existing structures and patterns and are then interpreted based on previous experiences”

It is as subjective as persons in the world. Depends on each person’s needs, values and expectations. When a stimulus activates any of our five senses, perception appears in our minds.

Understand the process of perception that starts with external stimuli and their later interpretation. One (or more) of the five senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, or Texture stimulus our sensory receptors, that caught our attention, is interpreted, and with all of this information, delivers a response: this is how the perception process works.

Which are the perceptual thresholds?

Absolute
This refers to the minimum amount of stimulation that can be detected by our five senses at half of the time. To generate a perception, the stimuli detected have to be above the absolute threshold.
When a stimuli is under the threshold, but below conscious perception (so quickly or slightly that can be missed) is called Subliminal Perception. An example would be the C formed by the Carrefour logo or the bear hidden in the mountain of Toblerone.

Differential

A Just Noticeable Difference (aka JND), is the ability to differentiate changes or differentiate two stimuli. Why is this important for marketers? It helps them figure out if a change of price, for example, is perceived or not by a target audience.

Three components for the perception process

Perceptual Selection

Off all the stimuli that people are exposed to, only some of them are really perceived. Which of them are perceived, depends on two factors:

Expectations and Motives. Expectations are based on previous experiences, familiarity, preconditioned set that affects these expectations. The unexpected attracts attention. Motives are based on messages that people pay attention to because they are in need or want of that type of product, this factor is related to the awareness stage of the purchase funnel (See more about this funnel here).

Expectation and motives interact and there are four concepts that appear with this interaction: Selective Exposure, Selective Attention, Perceptual Defense, and Perceptual Blocking.

Marketers can use strategies to call people’s attention and set their product or communication in the ‘perceivable field’. For example, unexpected content, images with high contrast, or flashmobs in public places. An excellent way to do this is using Guerrilla Marketing which refers to “Maximizing exposure with the intent to become noticed and make a strong impression on consumers is the reason why brands might engage in guerilla marketing. This form of marketing is often unconventional, unexpected, innovative, and memorable. Although it can be risky, when executed successfully guerilla marketing will result in word-of-mouth advertising and with any luck, become a viral sensation.”[1]

Perceptual Organization

Once the stimuli are detected, the perceptual organization stage begins. This stage refers to the organization of the information perceived in meaningful units. There are three different factors or concepts that enter this stage: Figure and Ground with refers to the contrast of the object with the environment that helps the stimuli be perceived; Grouping which refers to information that comes in as a group; and Closure refers to the organization of the perceptions to have a complete image of the whole information.

Perceptual Interpretation

Here is where the magic happens, my marketer friend. Interpretation is different for every person because it is related to each expectation and motive. This information is interpreted in schemas, based on similar characteristics.

There are factors that can influence this stage of interpretation: Physical appearances, stereotypes, first impressions, halo effect, or jumping right away to conclusions.


As we can see, perception is an important asset related to brand positioning. How your product or brand is perceived by your target audience will affect the positioning of the brand in relation to other brands. Knowing how the perception process works, will help you create campaigns that are meaningful to your target audience

I hope you liked today’s “Let’s talk about…” topic; I look forward to reading your comments and positions about it! If you want to read more about Marketing Insights and beyond, visit my other posts.

[1] https://kpu.pressbooks.pub/introconsumerbehaviour/chapter/the-perceptual-process/

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