What does ‘Perception is reality’ mean?
We have probably heard the cliché ‘perception is reality’. This means that we need to consider how the marketplace actually perceives the positioning of different products, rather than a technical/objective assessment of the product. Remember that our goal is to determine how consumers perceive the positioning of the various products in their minds, not to prove that our firm offers better/worse products than their competitors.
Let’s use an example to explain the difference. Assume that in a market research study, consumers were asked to rate which banks they believed were the most financially secure and the majority of them indicated that it was Bank X. However, let’s say a financial analyst undertook a detailed analysis of the various banks, he/she may find that Bank X is not the most secure, it is actually Bank Y.
So now we know, on a technical basis, that Bank Y is actually the most secure, but we are mainly interested in how consumers perceive the market. The research has found that the consumer perception is that Bank X is the most secure and, most importantly, their perception is their reality – it is what they believe to be true.
Therefore, the marketer has to work within the perception of the consumers, whether they are technically correct or not. The challenge here for Bank Y is how to change the perception of their offering in the marketplace, to align it with their actual/technical position.