ð The process, by which an individual selects, organizes & interprets stimuli into a meaningful & coherent picture of the world. It can also be described as HOW WE SEE THE WORLD AROUND US.

SENSATION à It is the immediate direct response of the sensory organs to stimuli.

STIMULUS à A stimulus is any unit of input to any of the senses. E.g. Sensory Input


ð These are the human organs that receive sensory inputs. Their sensory functions are to hear, taste, smell, feel & see.


ð The lowest level at which an individual can experience a sensation is called the absolute threshold. It is the point at which a person can detect a different b/w nothing & something is that person’s absolute threshold for that stimulus.

ð If we will see billboards one after another we will not give them any importance, but if we will see a billboard after a long gap will get attracted.


ð It is a change over time in the responsiveness of the sensory system to a constant stimulus.

ð Consumers sometime get become so used to current print ads & advertisements that at a stage those print ads & advertisements don’t attract them, that is those print ads & advertisements will no longer provide sufficient sensory input to be noted.


The minimal difference that can be detected between two similar stimuli is called Differential Threshold or JND-Just Noticeable Difference.

If a meal price is $10 and it is increased by 0.25 cents this difference is below JND level and will be ignored. But if the gasoline price is $8 and it is increased by $1 this difference will be noticed very quickly by consumers.


ð People being motivated below their level of conscious awareness that is they can perceive stimuli without being consciously aware that they are doing so.



ð An individual may look at some things, ignore others, and turn away from still others. In actuality people receive only a fraction of the stimuli to which they are exposed. For e.g. we go to any environment there are number of things happening there but we are not attracted by each and everything, because those thing are happening normally, so we don’t give attention to them we just go there do our work and come back.


· Advertorials: Print advertisements shown in editorials as a part of editorial, etc

· Infomercials: Advertisements shown as a documentary


ð How are you expecting to see a product? In marketing context, people tend to perceive products and product attributes according to their own expectations.

ð Usually marketers expect if in advertisements they use some materials which are not related to that product but they will cause attractiveness towards ads & the main product. But sometime it also happens that consumers get attracted to those unrelated products instead of main product.


ð Reasons or drives for action. For e.g. if a student is interested in buying a new cellular connection he will be noticing carefully the deals & offers coming with cellular services, he will not see that which service will benefit his friends if he will purchase it, he will think only for his benefit first.


ð Selective Exposure: We are not attracted by everything, so marketers must to something unique so we get attracted towards it.

ð Selective Attention: We just give attention to those things in which we take interest.

ð Perceptual Defense:

ð Perceptual Blocking: We start avoiding something because we don’t like it.


ð Figure & Ground: Figure must be different from ground otherwise it will loss its purpose by getting mixed.

ð Grouping: Getting good impression from previous ideas so that you have good image in your mind about new ones.

ð Closure: Leaving gaps b/w messages, so that customers can fill those gaps themselves.



Individuals are subject to number of influences that tend to distort their perceptions some of which are as follows: -

1) Physical Appearance:

ð If the appearance of a product is good people will be attracted toward it. E.g. we use an attractive female model in ads to get the attention of customers.

2) Stereotypes:

ð Individuals tend to carry pictures in their minds of meaning of various kinds of stimuli. It is based on our past experiences that we expect that result of certain thing will be definitely good. E.g. for a good student in class the teachers expects that the student will definitely get good grades in exams.

3) First impression:

ð Image formed in first appearance or meeting with anything or anyone. If the first impression of any product is good, we will remain have good impression about it.

4) Jumping to conclusion:

ð Many people tend to jump to conclusions before examining all the relevant evidence, instead of finding facts & figures we come to conclusion. E.g. If PRESTON is going to start MS in Biomedical Engineering we will not expect that this course will be good because we don’t have a good impression about the university.


ð STEROTYPES: These are certain standard, general assumption about anything. It is a general perception of people. E.g. Japanese are hard worker.

ð JUMPING TO CONCLUSION: Instead of finding facts & figures you create your opinion, it is individual based and varies according to situation.

5) Halo Effect:

ð Overall reputation of the company, we have detailed information about the company so we conclude keeping that point when making a decision. E.g. We know that Aga Khan University is very good, so if the university offers any new program we will expect that the program is good.


ð Consumers have a large number of enduring perceptions, or images, that are particularly relevant to the study of consumer behavior. Products and brands have symbolic value for individuals, who evaluate them based on their consistency (congruence) with their personal pictures of themselves. The following sections examine consumers’ perceived images of products, brands, prices, product quality, retail stores, and manufacturers.


ð The essence of successful marketing is the image that a product has in the mind of the consumer. i.e.: its positioning. The core of effective positioning is a unique position that the product occupies in the mind of the consumer.

ð Marketers of different brands in the same category can effectively differentiate their offerings only if they stress the benefits that their brands provide rather than their products’ physical features.

ð Positioning strategy is the essence of the marketing mix; it complements the company’s definition of the competition, its segmentation strategy, and its selection of target markets.

Umbrella Positioning:

ð This strategy entails creating an overall image of the company around which many products can be featured individually. This strategy is appropriate for very large corporations with diversified product lines.

Positioning against the competition:

ð It is a strategy adopted by marketers sometimes to differentiate their product with the competitive line. i.e.: to create a product that is unique in a sense that no one makes product of that type and hesitate to enter into the competition.

Positioning based on a specific Benefit:

It is a strategy of positioning a specific benefit that smartly and precisely depict key benefits of the brands they promote and have effectively positioned these brands in the minds of consumers.

Finding an “unowned” position:

In highly competitive markets, finding a niche unfilled by other companies is challenging but not impossible. For example, Long Island’s Newsday, in a reference to two competitive daily newspapers published in the New York City, Palmolive positions its dishwashing liquid as “tough on grease, soft on hands”.

Filling Several Positions:

ð As unfilled gaps or “unowned” perceptual positions present opportunities for competitors, sophisticated marketers create several distinct offerings, often in the form of different brands, to fill several identified niches.


ð Regardless of how well positioned a product appears to be, the marketer may be forced to reposition it in response to market events, such as a competitor cutting into the brand’s market share or too many competitors stressing the same attribute.

ð Another reason to repositioning a product or service is to satisfy changing consumer preferences.

Perceptual Mapping:

ð The technique of perceptual mapping helps marketers to determine just how their products or services appear to consumers in relation to competitive brands on one or more relevant characteristics. It enables them to see gaps in the positioning of all are not being adequately met.


ð Compared with manufacturing firms, service marketers face several unique problems in positioning and promoting their offerings. Because services are intangible, image becomes a key factor in differentiating a service from its competition. Thus, the marketing objective is to enable the consumer to link a specific brand name. Many service marketers have developed strategies to provide customers with visual images and intangible remainders of their service offerings.

ð Many service companies market several versions of their service to different market segments by using a differentiated positioning strategy. However, they must be careful to avoid perceptual confusion among their customers. The design of the service environment is an important aspect of service positioning strategy and sharply influences consumer impressions and consumer and employee behavior. The physical environment is particularly important in creating a favorable impression for such services.


ð How consumer perceives a price-as high, as low, as fair-has strong influences on both purchase intentions and purchase satisfaction. Consider the perception of price fairness, For example, There is some evidence that customers (such as senior citizens, frequent flyers, affinity club members), and that the differential pricing strategies used by some marketers are perceived as unfair by customers not eligible for the special prices.

Reference Prices:

ð Products advertised as “on sale” tend to create enhanced customer perceptions of savings and value. Different formats used in sales advertisements have different impacts, based on consumer reference prices.

ð A reference price is any price that a consumer uses as a basis for comparison in judging another price. Reference prices can be external or internal. Internal reference prices are those prices (or price ranges) retrieved by the consumer from memory. Internal reference points are thought to play a major role in consumers’ evaluations and perceptions of value of an advertised (external) price deal, as well as in the believability of any advertised reference price.

ð Advertised prices (both reference & sale prices lead to higher internal reference points).

ð According to acquisition-transaction, utility theory two types of utility are associated with consumer purchases. Acquisition utility represents the consumer’s perceived economic gain or loss associated with a purchase and is a function of product utility and purchase price. Transaction utility concerns the perceived pleasure or displeasure associated with the financial aspect of the purchase and is determined by the difference between the internal reference price and the purchase price.

ð Several studies have investigated the effects on consumer price perceptions of three types of advertised reference prices:

1. Plausible Low Prices: These are the prices within the range of acceptable market prices.

2. Plausible High Prices: These prices are near the outer limits of the range but not beyond the realm of believability.

3. Implausible High Prices: These prices are well above the consumers’ perceived range of acceptable market prices.

Tensile and objective price claims:

ð The semantic cues (i.e., specific wording) of the phrase used to communicate the price-related information may affect consumers’ price perceptions. Tensile price claims (e.g., “save 10% to 40%”, “save up to 60%”, “save 20% or more”) are used to promote a range of price discounts for a product line, an entire department, or sometimes an entire store.

Objective price claims:

ð It provides a single discount level (such as “save 25 %”). Because of the broader range of sale merchandise that is both covered by tensile and objective price claims, they are likely to generate more store traffic and sales than reference price advertisements promoting individual products.

ð Consumer reactions to tensile price claims are affected by the width of the discount range. Several studies examined the effects of the three forms of tensile price claims (advertising a minimum, a maximum, or a range of savings) on consumers’ price perceptions and their search and shopping intentions.

ð Broader Discount Ranges: for broader discount ranges, tensile claims stating the maximum level of savings have more positive effects than those stating the minimum level or entire savings range.

ð Narrow Discount Ranges: For narrow discount ranges, tensile claims stating the maximum level of savings appear to be no more effective than claims stating the minimum level or the entire saving range.


ð Consumers often judge the quality of a product or service because of a variety of informational cues that they associate with the product. Some of these cues are intrinsic to the product or service, whereas others are extrinsic. Either singly or in composite, such cues provides the basis for perceptions of product and service quality.

Perceived Quality of Products:

ð Cues that are intrinsic, concern physical characteristics of the product itself, such as size, color, flavor, or aroma. In some cases, consumer use physical characteristics (e.g., the flavor of ice cream or coke) to judge product quality. Consumers likely to believe that enables them to justify their product decisions (either positive or negative) as being “rational” or “objective” product choices. Many consumers use country-of-origin stereotypes for the evaluation (e.g., “German engineering is excellent” or “Japanese cars are reliable”).

Perceived Quality of Services:

ð It is more difficult for consumers to evaluate the quality of services than the quality of products. This is true because of certain distinct characteristics of services: They are intangible, they are perishable, and they are simultaneously produced and consumed. To overcome the fact that consumers are unable to compare competing services side-by-side as they do with competing products, consumers rely on surrogate cues (i.e., extrinsic cues) to evaluate service quality. Marketers try to standardize their services in order to provide consistency of quality.

ð Consumer’s quality is a function of the magnitude and direction of the gap between the customer’s expectations of service and the consumer’s assessment (perception) of the service actually delivered.

ð The SERVQUAL scale was designed to measure the gap between customers’ expectations of services and their perceptions of the actual service delivered, based on the following five dimensions: reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy, and tangibility. These dimensions are divided into two groups: the outcome dimension (which focuses on the reliable delivery of the core service) and the process dimension (which focuses on how the core service is delivered, that is, the employees’ responsiveness, assurance, and empathy in the handling customers and the service’s tangible aspects).

SERVQUAL DIMENSIONS: (for Measuring Service Quality and their Description)

ð Reliability à Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.

ð Responsiveness à Willingness to help customers and provide prompt service. (How your quality is getting response to the customer needs).

ð Assurance à Knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence. (When you are unaware about the product, then you ask assurance or any warranty about the product).

ð Empathy à Caring, individualized attention the firm provides its customers. (Restaurant is good, food is good, but staff is not responding well, you won’t go next time, but there will be normal food but staff is responding well then you will go there in future).

ð Tangibles à Appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication materials. (Mechanics is good because it has good equipment; Lab is good because it has modern equipment).

ð Researchers have tried to integrate the concepts of product quality and service quality into an overall transaction satisfaction index, on the basis that all products (i.e. tangible) purchases contain some elements of service beyond the core tangible offerings.


ð Perceived product value has been described as a trade-off between the product’s perceived benefits (or quality) and the perceived sacrifice-both monetary and non-monetary-necessary to acquire it. Consumers rely on price as an indicator of product quality that consumers attribute different qualities to identical products that carry different price tags, and that such consumer characteristics as age and income affect the perception of value. One study suggests that consumers using a price/quality relationship are actually relying on a well known (and, hence, more expensive) brand name as an indicator of quality without actually relying directly on price per se. A later study found out that consumers use price and brand to evaluate the prestige of the product but do not generally use these cues when they evaluate the product’s performance.


ð Retail stores have images of their own that serve to influence the perceived quality of products they carry and the decisions of consumers as to where to shop. These images stem from their design and physical environment, their pricing strategies, and product assortments.

ð A study of retail store image based on comparative pricing strategies found that consumers tend to perceive stores that offer a small discount on a large number of items. (i.e., frequency of price advantage) as having lower prices over all than competing stores that offer larger discounts on a smaller number of products (i.e., magnitude of price advantage).


ð Consumer imagery extends beyond perceived price and store image to the producers themselves. Manufacturers who enjoy a favorable image generally find that their new products are accepted more readily than those of manufactures who have a less favorable or even a “neutral” image. Researchers have found that consumers generally have favorable perc3eptions of pioneer brands (the first in a product category), even after follower brand (the first in a product category), even after follower brands become available. They also found a positive correlation between pioneer brand image and an individual’s ideal self-image, which suggests that positive perceptions toward pioneer brands lead to positive purchase intentions.

ð Some major marketers introduce new products under the guise of supposedly smaller, pioneering (and presumably more forward-thinking) companies. The goal of this so-called stealth (or faux) parentage is to persuade consumers that the new brands are produced by independent, nonconformist free spirits, rather than by giant corporate entities.


ð Perceived risk is defined as the uncertainty that consumers face when they cannot foresee the consequences of their purchase decisions. The degree of risk that consumers perceive and their own tolerance for risk taking are factors that influence their purchase strategies. It should be stressed that consumers are influenced by risks that they perceive, whether such risks actually exists. Risk that isn’t perceived-no matter how real or how dangerous-will not influence consumer behavior.

ð The major type of risks that consumers perceive when making product decisions include Functional Risk à If the product is good but function is not performing properly, Physical Risk à No harm is taken., Financial Risk à Some other shop it will available in more cheaper rate, Social Risk à Society accept it or not, Psychological Risk à Ego effects yes or no, Time Risk à Spend too much time on certain product.

Perception of Risk Varies:

ð Consumer perception of risk varies, depending on the person, the product, the situation, and the culture. The amount of risk perceived depends on the specific consumer. Some consumers tend to perceive high degrees of risk in various consumption situations; others tend to perceive little risk.

ð High-Risk perceivers are often described as narrow categorizers because they limit their choices (e.g. product choices) to a few safe alternatives. Low-risk perceivers are often perceived as broad categorizers because they tend to make their choices from a much wider range of alternatives. They would rather risk a poor selection than limit the number of alternatives from which they can choose. An individual’s perception of risk varies with product categories. In addition to product-category perceived risk, researchers have identified product specific perceived risk. The degree of risk perceived by a consumer is also affected by the shopping situation (e.g. a traditional retail store online, catalog or direct mail solicitations, or door-to-door sales).

How consumers Handle Risk:

ð Consumers characteristically develop their own strategies for reducing perceived risk. These risk-reduction strategies enable them to act with increased confidence when making product decisions, even though the consequences of such decisions remain somewhere uncertain.

1) Consumers seek Information:

ð Consumers seek information about the product and product categories through word-of-mouth communication (from friends and family and from other people whose opinions they value), from salespeople, and from the general media. They spend more time in thinking about their choice and search for more information about the product alternatives when they associate a high degree of risk with the purchase.

2) Consumers are Brand Loyal:

ð Consumers avoid risk by remaining loyal to a brand with which they have been satisfied instead of purchasing new or untried brands. High-risk perceivers, for example, are more likely to be loyal to their old brands and less likely to purchase newly introduced products.

3) Consumers Select by Brand Image:

ð When consumers have had no experience with a product, they tend to “trust” a favored or well-known brand name. Consumers often think well known brands are better and are worth buying for the implied assurance of quality, dependability, performance, and service. Marketers’ promotional efforts supplement the perceived quality of their products by helping to build and sustain a favorable brand image.

4) Consumers Rely on Store Image:

ð If consumers have no other information about a product, they often trust the judgment of the merchandise buyer of a reputable store and depend on them to have made careful decisions in selecting products for resale. Store image also imparts the implication of product testing and the assurance of service, return privileges, and adjustments in case of dissatisfaction.

5) Consumers buy the most expensive Model:

ð When in doubt, consumers often feel that the most expensive model is best in terms of quality; that is, they equate price with quality.

6) Consumers seek reassurance:

ð Consumers who are uncertain about the wisdom of a product choice seek reassurance through money-back guarantees, government and private laboratory test results, warranties, and pre-purchase trial. The concept of perceived risk major implications for the introduction of new products because high-risk perceivers are less likely to purchase new or innovative products than low-risk perceivers are, it is important for marketers to provide such consumers with persuasive risk-reduction strategies, such as a well known brand name (sometimes achieved through licensing).

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