PERCEPTION Consumer Behaviour

What is Perception in Consumer Behaviour ?

Perception is the most important psychological factor that affects human behavior. It is process consisting of several sub-processes. These are stimulus, registration, interpretation,feedback and reaction. The first step is the presence of stimulus, or the situation which an individual faces. This is followed by registration which affects the psychological organs. Thus,the individual interprets (attaches meaning to the stimulus) and learns. Factors like learning help in the perceptual process. Feedback is the fourth element and, the final aspect is the resultant behavior of the individual.

Our perception of the stimuli and the situation plays an important role on our behavior is the critical activity that links the individual consumer to a group, situation and marketer influences.

When a person is exposed to a stimuli, he may show interest in the exposure. His attentions drawn towards the object and the nerves transmit the sensation to the brain for processing. Interpretation is the assignment of meaning to the received sensations. This is retained by the memory (only a part of the registered information may be retained by the memory).This leads to consumption behavior which may have positive or negative feedback for the individual.

Figure below shows that the individual is exposed to the stimuli. His attention is attracted.He interprets the stimuli and the situation which goes to his memory and, the reactions shown by means of purchases.

Information-processing-for-consumer decision making

Much of the information may not be available to the memory when an individual decides to purchase something. So, when communicating to the consumers, the marketer ha san uphill task, because an individual is exposed to a lot of information but, retains very little in the memory.
The figure shows that there are very many exposures by the marketers. The individual or the consumer is exposed to only a part of the exposures, some of which is interpreted and little is retained in the memory.

When a stimuli comes under the range of sensory preceptors, nerve exposure occurs. Most of the stimuli to which an individual is exposed to, is self selected, e.g., switching channels on TV,skipping pages of magazines, avoiding information that one is not interested in. We deliberately seek and avoid information of our interest. It is done to achieve the goals we aspire for. It is challenge for the marketer to hold the interest of the consumer on his commercials and exposures.
This occurs when the sensory receptor nerves are activated by the stimuli and, the brain registers sensations for processing. The market offers a variety of goods. It may take us long to go through all of them. Therefore, we selectively choose and attend to products and messages.One may not attend to warnings on cigarette packets or, may see the model more than the clothes. The same individual may devote different levels of attention to the same stimulus indifferent situations. Attention is determined by three factorsstimulus, the individual and the situation. These together or individually play an important role in attracting the individual.
Stimulus Factor
There are certain features in a product that can attract greater attention. This would be the size, the intensity, the co lour and movement, position, format of the message, information quality, information overload.

By size we mean that if an advertisement is on a full page or in column. The intensity is the number of times a message is repeated in a newspaper or a magazine, TV or any other media. Further, both co lour and movement attract attention. An advertisement may be black or white or in multi-colors. It can be shown stationary or in a moving state, which is more noticeable. Position refers to the placement of the object, whether it is placed in the Centrex Morin a corner. Similarly, the right hand page advertisement may be more noticeable than the advertisement on the left hand side.

Isolation is separating an object from other objects. In isolation, an object may stimulate and draw more attention. Similarly, the format of the message. How it is presented, what words and structure is used? A simple format can draw greater attention that a complicated message. The messages targeted at a specific audience can also be very effective. Compressed messages which say more in fewer words can make a good impact. Information quality should be balanced or optimum. All consumers have limited capacity to process information. If a lot of information is given, it may confuse the individual and, he is not able to make a choice. This is known as information overload. With too much information consumers get confused and become frustrated. They may also experience pre-purchase dissonance. Marketers give relevant information on packages and labels. Information can also be given in brochures, pamphlets,etc.

Individual Factors
Individual factors affect the decision-making process. The individual is governed by the interest or the need. Interest also reflects the lifestyle of an individual and, the long-term goals(achieving a specific position in life like becoming a senior manager or something). The short term goals are influenced by situations. Individual also differ in their ability to gather and assimilate information. The information sought reflects their needs. An academician is in the pursuit of knowledge and books and, a sportsman will be attentive to advertisement regarding energy foods and health builders. A patient of diabetes gets interested in the medical information regarding the subject.
Situational Factors
Decision-making is also influenced by situational factors like time pressure or cleanliness or crowded places. Noise, atmosphere ambience can stimulate the individual, favorably or adversely in situations. People pressed for time are not able to pay attention to stimuli as well as those who have leisure.
Program Involvement
In a TV program, a number of advertisements appear which some individuals watch or some skip them (fast forward) or take a break. The nature of the program will influence the nature of response received. The attention can be focused that is deliberate exposure to stimuli.It can also be without deliberate or conscious focusing of attention.
The same message can be interpreted in different ways. It is how we assign meaning to sensations. Interpretation involves a competitive or factual component and, an effective or emotional response by cognitive or factual component. The stimuli is placed in different categories of meaning. If a firm floats a new brand at a lower price, it can be interpreted that the product is of low quality. This, however may not be true, as the firm may have more efficient means of production and marketing facilities and may be wanting to add another variety or, to extend the brand. The interpretation can also be affected by the semantic and psychological meanings attached to a stimuli. Semantic meaning is the conventional meaning. Whereas, the psychological meaning is the meaning attached by individuals or groups by their experience on the basis of a situation. The word sale may mean that the goods are on reduced price. It can bepsychologically interpreted that these goods are going to be out of style soon.

Effective interpretation is an emotional response to an advertisement. The same advertisement or a picture may attract or repel different individuals. Some may feel happy to see snowfall, others may dread the cold some may be happy to see wrestling advertisements,others want to avoid any kind of physical fight.

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