Thursday, February 18, 2010

Perception

Quality, more often than not, is based on perception more-so than the actual quality. Toyota had a great overall quality perception a year ago, but with the recent revelations of some poorly handled recalls, Toyota's are now ticking time bombs.

My wife displayed a great example of this quality perception idea. Where we live, there are only a few major supermarkets - the closest is Berkeley Bowl West, a local market that is great for produce and organic stuff, but their meat selection, while impressive is really really expensive (I don't personally place much more value in grass-fed beef or free-range chickens). The next closest supermarket, is called Pak 'n Save, which is owned by Safeway, though you wouldn't know it from the outside. Inside, it is essentially a big Safeway, the only real difference, is that you bag your own groceries at the end of the process (get it? you Pack and save). They sell all the same stuff as Safeway including Safeway branded products, use the Safeway bags and packaging, and use the same Safeway Club Card. Granted, there is a less upscale feel that the newer and remodeled Safeways have, that this one lacks ... which conveys a Physical Evidence that doesn't reinforce quality.

My wife hates shopping there and would rather drive an extra few miles to the smaller, crowded Safeway or pay more at the organic market. She is suspicious of nearly all their products, making sure to double-check expiration dates of whatever we buy. She's convinced that this is where all the unsold products go to die. I personally don't mind, because its closer, usually a faster checkout, and I don't have awkward encounters in tight aisles where my cart is in somebody's way.

The thing to think about is this: While your business and product/service may be on the mark. How do your customers and prospects perceive it? What are you doing to manage that perception?

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