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Is Perception More Important Than Product?

Is perception more important than facts? Is having a better brand more important than having a good product/services?

Perception isn’t always half the battle; at times, it’s the entire battle. In the marketing community, there is a constant grapple between two schools of thought. One school is product-focused, and the other is brand-focused.

The product folks are of the opinion that the ultimate winner in every marketing battle is the better product. If this is so, then here goes the thinking, the role of an organization marketing plan is to communicate what makes the company’s product superior to its competitors. It’s simple, logical and fits the fact that “everybody knows.” Take, for example, if you ask what the best smartphone is? It’s an iPhone, of course. But the critical insight is perception.

There are no facts. Everything is based on perceptions. There are no superior products and services; there are only superior perceptions in the mind of the consumer. And so it is with many other so-called “facts” we assume to be true.

There’s no question, iPhone has the impression of being the best smartphone.

What else do we know about perceptions? They are difficult to change. Once a person holds a strong opinion of a specific brand, it’s challenging to change that perception. Developing a better smartphone than an iPhone is a simple task compared to developing a better impression than an iPhone in consumers’ mind. It’s almost impossible. Perceptions are challenging to reshape.

Can you remember the last time you changed of mind?

The product-based school doesn’t need to be bothered about when a brand should be launched. It might be an excellent move to delay the launch of a new brand to have the time to build a better product. Brand-Based school thinks differently. Since perceptions seldom change, it’s crucial to get into consumers’ minds before your competitor does. The brand-focused school believes “it’s better to be first than it is to be better.”

Take, for example, the story of Robert Galbraith vs J.K. Rowling.

“J.K. Rowling is known to be the first author to become a billionaire by writing books. Her “Harry Potter” books were translated into 55 different languages in over 180 countries and sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. J.K. Rowling also wrote a novel (The Cuckoo’s Calling) and had it published under a different name (Robert Galbraith).

In spite of favourable reviews, “The Cuckoo’s calling” sold less than 1,000 copies. Then word got out that J.K. Rowling actually wrote the book and it immediately jumped to the top of the best-seller lists. In a few months, the novel had sold 1.1 million copies.

So what’s more important, the book or the author?

The product or the brand?

What school do you belong to Product-focused or Brand-focused? Or are you in the middle?

If history is any guide, it won’t change your mind. It’s the same with perceptions.

They hardly change.

User Research reveals how your audience PERCEIVE your business.

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