5 Ways to Create the Perception of Quality
Marketing Psychology, Inc. Marketing and Sales From the Inside Out
Gary Witt, Ph.D.
People buy the best quality they can afford. But judging quality isn't easy for buyers. That's why brand names are so important to them -- they trust the brand's image. If you don’t have a household name brand, you need to take advantage of human psychology to create the impression of quality. As you do, you’re building the assumption of quality into your brand image.
Here's an interesting example. A researcher put two office calculators side by side for people to try out and rate ‑‑ a low‑end Brand Name calculator and an unknown brand of high quality. One third of the subjects saw the correct brand name on each machine, another third saw the brand names switched, and a third saw no brand at all.
The result? Whenever the brand name labels were visible, the well‑known brand was rated higher quality ‑‑ no matter which machine it was on! Without labels, the unknown calculator was rated higher. Conclusion? A respected brand name alone can significantly alter the buyer's perceived QUALITY of a product, not just its perceived value.
Here are five ways you can create a Quality image for your product or service.
1) PACKAGING: We equate richer packages with higher quality. Some years ago Albertson's supermarkets changed the labels on every store brand from canned carrots to zucchini. The new labels were beautiful, filled with rich colors and wonderful‑looking food. Albertson's didn't change the price, the contents or the ad budget, just the product labels.
That one change increased sales by over 20% in a year! In fact, customers often said the Albertson's cans looked more appealing and of higher quality than the well‑known brands sitting next to them! That's a 180‑degree shift in perception -- just from changing a label.
2) STORE IMAGE: Numerous factors influence shoppers' perceived image of a store, each impacting its perceived quality. These are covered in a separate blog. In summary, the factors include the “look” of the store, the type of shoppers, the type and dress of the staff, and the location of the store.
3) ADVERTISING: We are always looking for ways to help to decide how truthful an ad is. A publication not liked or respected by target buyers will influence their opinion about the ads it contains.
Even more telling is the quality of the ad ‑‑ what it looks like, how it is written, what it says. A poorly printed black and white photo of a hamburger will not look as appetizing as one in a color ad on slick paper. Scrimping on advertising production, and especially food photography, is a good example of Franklin's adage, "Penny wise and pound foolish." Buyers seem to equate quality advertising with quality products / services.
4) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. Countries, like products, have reputations for quality. Japan used to have a terrible reputation for quality, but now it has one of the best, and its prices have risen accordingly. A shirt whose label says "Imported from France" can be sold for more than an identical shirt whose label says "Imported from Nigeria."
Buyers perceive that certain countries do certain things better than other countries. The Japanese reputation for quality is strong in electronic goods and cars, but no one would expect a bottle of wine or jar of spaghetti sauce to be superior just because it came from Japan. The Swiss have a reputation for fine watches and great cheese, but no one is rushing out to buy Swiss computers. Remember that buyers judge the quality of any imported product in part by where it was made, or says it was made!
5) PERCEIVED COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: A brand may not be imported at all, but its name may suggest it is. That's enough to influence many consumers to give it a higher quality rating, and pay more for it. For example, Haagen Dazs ice cream is made in the U.S., but buyers give it a higher quality rating because they think it comes from Scandinavia. Smirnoff vodka is made in Connecticut, but most buyers thought it was Russian, which helped to make it popular. A label brand name like Paris Lido creates the assumption it is made in France!
Never underestimate the power of a brand name and label to create a profit opportunity based on a perceived foreign image. It isn't so much where a product was made as where the buyer imagines it was made.
Using just some of these tips will help you create a higher quality image for your product, give you a sales edge, and support higher prices. Never sell shlock as quality, but the perceived quality of an item is in the mind of the beholder. That is where you should be, too!