How Your Customers Perceive Value

by RevMark


Understanding the value perceptions of customers is critical no matter what industry you are in or role you play in your organization. As a business owner you must understand your target market as thoroughly as possible to effectively manage all elements of your business plan.

The challenge is that understanding how your customers perceive value is difficult to quantify due to its subjectivity. Value perceptions are influenced by many variables including attitudes, culture, social standing, political affiliation and a myriad of other influencers. How then can we make any measure of value perception responsibly? One thing we know we can do is understand how our mind fundamentally processes data at the subconscious level before our emotive and logic receptors muddy up the waters.

To illustrate this example, imagine you are looking at four identically sized and spaced squares on a piece of paper. One square is red, one is green, one is yellow, and one is blue.

Being that our minds are systematic and finite in their operation, it first attributes 100% of the possible value to the entire series. It then dissects the series of images and makes value judgments based on physiological triggers. Our mind confirms that spatially, these four images are of equal size, shape and spacing. Therefore, our mind attributes an equal 25% of value to each of the four images. At this point, as far as our mind is concerned, these four images are equal.

The next thing our mind does is process color. Because red has the lowest frequency and highest wavelength of any color, it is the first to reach our eye (this is why important things are red…like stop signs, fire trucks and Twizzlers). Yellow is the second to hit our eye followed by green and then blue. Our mind concludes that the red square must be more valuable than the yellow square which is more valuable than the green square, etc. Keep in mind that these processes are happening in a nanosecond before our core emotional reactions tell us that the red square makes us feel energetic, the yellow square makes us feel happy, the green square makes us feel comfortable and the blue square makes us feel creative.

Keeping this process in mind, it is important to understand that every potential customer makes a multitude of value judgments, on a subconscious level, about the messages they receive from your business. Do the value judgments that are made about your business help or hurt your brand as it applies to the position your brand holds in the human mind?

A frequent radio advertisement in our area depicts a handyman business with the owner declaring “I’m not sure if everyone realizes all of the things we can do.” He then begins spouting off all the services his company can do such as basements, kitchens, bathrooms, roof repair, plumbing, heating & AC, floor repair, foundation crack repair, siding, windows, guttering, decking and a number of other services – the list is long and forgettable (For the purposes of this piece we will ignore the fact that average human mind can only remember four to five items in any list without applying a pneumonic device). Because the only sense being used in this example is auditory, our mind breaks the statements that are made into a series, again applying 100% of total value to the entire service portfolio of the company. Each time this owner reveals another service our mind divides the value of the overall service portfolio in half. This means that if ten services were mentioned in the advertisement our mind attributes 10% of value to each service. So, before our mind even begins processing the specific messages being communicated it thinks that the company provides a whole lot of services…but it isn’t good at any of them.

Think of the most powerful brands that exist in our society. With few exceptions, these brands represent one concept in the human mind.

  • Google = search
  • McDonald’s = hamburger
  • Coca-Cola = soft drink
  • IBM = business computers
  • Intel = computer processors
  • BMW = driving machine
  • Nike = athletic shoes
  • Budweiser = beer
  • Microsoft = software
  • Apple = computer electronics
  • Jersey Shore = a systematic dumbing-down of our society

While you might argue that our remodeling company does represent the concept “remodeler”, you should ask yourself how effective is this concept in the human mind? If you want a new deck don’t you think to call a decking company? If you need work done to your roof don’t you call a roofing company? If your pipes are leaking don’t you call a plumber? Many companies such as this one tend to group as many services together as they can in hopes that you think of them when something in your house goes wrong – they want to be all things to all people. Unfortunately, our mind simply does not work like that.

At the end of the remodeling company radio commercial, our owner says “Oh ya, we are also problem solvers, I think we have seen just about every problem there is.” This statement, which is thrown in as an afterthought, is actually the only effective brand statement in the entire commercial. This company should embrace the concept of “home problem solvers”. This concept implies strategic thinking and could be established as a premium brand to which there are many advantages, but most importantly, it is a clear, concise message that is easy to remember and that our mind will attribute 100% of value.

What concept or service does your brand occupy in the human mind? Is it one clear, concise message with which the human mind can attribute 100% value? or can you do a multitude of services incompetently?

About the Author

Grant Gooding is the founder of Startup Branding, L.L.C. and focuses primarily on brand positioning. He has owned and participated in several startup businesses throughout his career including working as an analyst in mergers and acquisitions for nearly 10 years evaluating and consulting over 200 startups specializing in analysis of new business and product concepts.

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