It's All in the Perception

For you outdoorsmen and women, by the time this publishes, camping season will be under way. At the moment, however, it has barely begun—although recently, good friends were anxious to take their new camper on its maiden trip to a campground near my home. It was a great chance to reconnect, sitting around the campfire telling “remember-when...” stories.

Pulling up to the campsite, I was amused to see my friend sitting at the picnic table, hair straightener in hand, smoothing her hair in the reflection of her toaster. She admitted to putting her makeup on this way, too. I’m not denying the clever use of her kitchen appliance, I just found her dedication to beauty ritual an interesting contrast to the unrefined backdrop of woods. Whatever makes her happy.

Thinking about products, consumer happiness is an outcome of consumer perception. And as the industry knows, consumer perception is crucial to product success. It’s the difference between skepticism and trust, like and dislike, and, ultimately, the sale or no sale. So whether it’s a reflection in the side of a toaster or complex data points plotting improvements in skin, evidence guides consumer interpretation, influencing perception and facilitating a connection.

This is demonstrated in Mootoo et al.’s article, where consumers’ perception of age via objective and subjective visual ratings are compared. Results suggest that with self-assessments, subjects affix emotion to their evaluations, thus rating themselves as looking younger.

In contrast, physical measurements, such as those described for skin by McLeod and for hair by Bendejacq provide tangible evidence for claims on which marketing can build a story. It’s all about developing products in which people can believe, and a great deal of effort goes into this—just look at all the in-cosmetics and Suppliers’ Day launches. You’ll be seeing them here for months to come—there’s that many to cover.

Of course, the industry can only go so far in selling product efficacy. It can take measurements all day but it’s up to consumers to interpret the results they see—wherever they may view them.

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