Perception of buyer behavior


We live in an over-communicated society. There are companies, individuals, social organizations and government and its agencies demanding our attention. Whether it’s morning newspaper, radio, television, hoardings, Kiosks or roadside shops, there is an advertising blaze. But none of us see or hear everything that is being communicated to us by the advertiser. Behavioral scientists tells us that human beings see or hear only what they want or anticipate. This is then called “Perception�.

There are three different dimensions that affect human being’s perception. These are

1. Selective attention
2. Selective distortion
3. Selective retention

Selective Attention

As was mentioned earlier, none of us pay attention to all stimuli directed on us by the advertiser. Just look around and see what is typically done when ad commercials are beamed on the TV during the prime time. Most adults go out to complete their work or do something else during the commercial break. Fast forwarding a video or an audio cassette during the commercial break is yet another way by which we as consumers avoid the advertiser’s stimulus. Therefore, behavioral experts say that all human beings pay selective attention to different stimuli. This selective attention is based on the following three factors

1. Expectation If we expect to see or hear something then we shall pay attention to only such stimuli.
2. Rewarding or Beneficial If we believe that by listening to someone or reading or seeing something will help us, then we shall pay attention to such stimulus. For example, every household in urban cities get flyers on weekends. Most of these are just thrown away in the dustbin. But suppose there is one full page ad announcing the opening of a new departmental store in the town and informing that the first 1000 customers who visit the store in the first week with the flyer in the newspaper will get a return ticket to Kulu-Manali, then some of us are likely to pay attention to this ad and the flyers. Likewise, a leading cosmetic firm, carried a campaign on the art of make up in most up-market magazines in 1981. This was three page ad. The front page had an extremely ugly looking face of a girl. Research showed readers just skipped this page as they hated to see this face. But the moment they turned over they had the same face but more beautiful and, as someone said “ breathtaking� . Most men and women had seen this ad. Most women not only saw the ad but even recalled its contents. Therefore a stimulus that promises to be rewarding is more likely to be seen or heard.

Selective Distortion

People, not just selectively pay attention to different stimuli, they also selectively distort them. This selective distortion happens because people add their own values and beliefs to the message. Also , since people remember only positive experiences and stimulus, they just filter out everything else. We add to or delete from the original message.

Selective Retention

Even after distorting the message it is not that individuals are able to recall it. Research shows that most often human beings recall only 5% of the original verbal message. The percentage of people recalling stimulus increases as the stimulus becomes more visual and is the maximum when it is both an audio as well as visual.

Perception theory challenges a marketer’s creativity. For the challenge is how the firm makes its brand and ads seen and remembered. The challenge is also one of placing the brand at the top of the customer’s mind . Marketers have used several strategies to make their stimuli stand out. Full page ads (size), colored ads in black and white magazines(contrast), floats or other mobile stimuli (movement), easy to understand words (familiarity) and making a customer guess on objects or messages to come(e.g. a teaser campaign like “look out for this space tomorrow if you want to fly Singapore Free�), in other words, creating anticipation, are some of the most commonly used strategies to make a stimulus perceived by the customer. Repetition(like the repetition of Limca three times in Limca radio jingles and TV commercials) is also a very common strategy.