An essay by Deepali Nayar @ Publicis Sapient
Influence of Perceptions
Have you ever felt that your experiences are being driven by your perceptions, and that your mind works against you to be grounded in reality?
Or, at times do you feel that peer pressure, your social circle, or your social status drives most of your needs and wants? And you are automatically influenced by a brand without looking at the actual facts and figures of the product/service?
This is our unconscious mind — so-called “fast thinking” — and it’s what is constantly active and governs all of our actions. We rely on digital apps and social media more than ever during the COVID-19 era with accelerated algorithms plugged almost directly into our brains.
When people share ratings and reviews online, they are based on their own experiences with a product/service. We’re easily influenced by what they have experienced.
How often do we consider that maybe we can have a different experience of our own instead of just reading someone else’s?
But we human beings are social animals, and we like to move with the crowd instead of swim upstream. It’s exhausting to have our own opinion about something, so we’d prefer to be under the influence of others. It’s really hard to be an individual.
And I am no different in succumbing to that influence — especially when it comes to a purchase.
We are all shoppers who at some point in time, have gone through the exercise of selecting the right product which fits perfectly with all the criteria in their list.
For quite a while, I have been looking to buy a new car and have been inundated with brand messaging that is driven by influencer customers. I have all the right ingredients with me: my list, my family, my friends to help me, and many brands to choose from.
But the decision eludes me.
Countless people in my network want to discuss the features that I should look for in a new car — and to help me with my decision making. I have my “must have list,” but how do I avoid being overpowered by my friends and family suggest?
I already have a few brands in my mind which I am influenced by, because I have somehow perceived them as “good brands” by how they are presented digitally. I also have a preconceived notion about a few other brands which I assume to not be good.
An important point to note here is that all my notions of cars (good or bad) are coming either through word of mouth or online channels.
I have not experienced any car myself, yet.
Experience & You
What happens during your first experience with the product? Do your preconceived notions cloud the experience? Or will the experience entirely depend on your actual hands-on, test driving through al the features that the product has to offer?
Perceptions can be good or bad — but they can surely alter our expectations during an initial experience. But they may or may not be the drivers of your final decision to form a positive, or negative, intent.
I feel it can depend on many factors but perhaps the most important one to consider is YOU.
What kind of individual are you? Open? Or closed? That will determine how much you let your perceptions impact an experience — perhaps in an all-consuming way. Or if just briefly.
A brand’s perception can be very different from the actual product experience. Be careful how in the creative world we often celebrate “branding.” Because we can’t forget that the product experience itself is the real hero.
It’s really up to us to be influenced by our perceptions, or not, during the decision making process before purchasing. But we can’t forget that we’re not purchasing a brand. We’re purchasing a product/service. The brand can alter our perceptions, but nothing speaks the truth more than how the product experience delivers the ultimate promise of the brand.