For marketing strategies to be successful, they must find a way to tap into the consumer’s senses and emotions. In order to build a brand, marketers must work to reinforce the image that the brand triggers in the minds and hearts of current and potential customers. A brand’s reputation is incredibly important, but the one thing that is truly important which can make or break the brand, is consumer perception.
Marketing is successful when the process of advertising and selling a product creates an impression in the consumer’s mind that drives loyalty. An article of Bizfluent mentions the outdoor apparel company L.L. Bean and their return policy of replacing any product that a customer returns for any reason, regardless of how long it has been worn. Although this policy may cost the company a lot of money in the short term as dishonest customers take advantage of it and return items that have been worn for long periods of time, in the long term the return policy works for the company. The return policy builds up the company’s brand by building trust and loyalty because consumers’ perception of the brand is a positive one.
However, sometimes negative consumer perceptions can have just as much, if not more of an impact as positive ones. With the age of social media, everything is put under a microscope and what is otherwise a small situation or misunderstanding can spiral into a huge scandal that can often tarnish a brand. For example, Southwest Airlines has been under a lot of scrutiny in the past few years. From kicking customers off their flights over the years for unfair reasons (like speaking Arabic and having pet allergies), to physically dragging customers off planes and dealing with a customer fatality due to an exploding engine, the Southwest brand has suffered due to poor consumer perception of the airline. As a matter of fact, Southwest Airlines lost millions of dollars in revenue due to their issues over the years. Consumers shared these stories on social media and the airline received backlash from customers who decided to boycott the company. The negative publicity caused the company’s price to plummet.
The way a consumer perceives a brand can impact their consumer decision making process. Customer perception plays an important role in a company’s ability to attract new customers and to keep the customers they already have. By coming up with and properly executing marketing strategies as well as working on some of the factors that build on a person’s perception of a company or brand, marketers can boost a brand’s perception and drive sales as a result.