Consumers’ Perception of Products: Product Evaluation, Country of Origin, Culture and Marketing

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According to the Cambridge Dictionary, perception in marketing is described as the way that someone thinks and feels about a company, product, service, etc. Another definition is that perception is ‘a psychological variable involved in the Purchase Decision Process that is known to influence Consumer Behavior’. Findings from previous researches also established that consumers have a certain predetermined perception of products from other countries. It is commun to people raised in a same country, from a same community or religious groups and thus, pre determined by culture. Perception is also said to be influenced by the different characteristics of products and the promotion tools used by companies.

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However, as those references might not be sufficient, reliable and might not provide accurate definitions, deeper analyses of theoretical sources are required in order to understand the origin of product perception, product evaluation, the influence of culture and promotion; and in a broader perspective, the french perception of asian products.

We thus, selected three keywords: perception, culture and marketing mix. Those keywords could be declined, and sometimes combined as the following: product perception, product quality perception, product image, french product perception, cultural dimensions, marketing influence.

Perception and Product evaluation

Consumer Product Perception

Product evaluation is closely linked to the process of defining one’s product perception when it comes to the understanding of purchase behaviors.

Valarie A. Zeithaml, researcher who wrote the Journal of Marketing (1988), discussed this subject and stated that product evaluation is triggered by three main factors: the perceived quality, the perceived value, and the perceived price. An understanding of product evaluation through those three factors can help us defining what influences consumers’ product perception.

According to the means-end adaptation model of product evaluation (Monroe and Krishnan, 1985), there are cause-to-effect and empirical relationships between the perceived value, price and perceived quality of products; which are also influenced by lower level attributes called intrinsic and extrinsic variables (respectively, physical or external attributes of a product cf Operational definitions of terms). Because the effects of those determinants on perception result to purchasing decisions, it is necessary to comprehend the characteristics and relationships between each of them.

Product Value evaluation

The evaluation of a product value is the most difficult determinant to measure, as being entirely subjective and differing depending on the preferences of each consumer. Product Value is identified either by:

The intensity of desirability of some features of a products – the intrinsic or extrinsic values, psychological or utility benefits seeked by the consumer which lead to purchase decision such as convenience or children appreciation for juice,

Anything obtained for what was “sacrificed”. The product for which more sacrifices are done is considered more valuable. For instance, time, energy or effort.

The value of the price – a product which is “expensive” might be considered more valuable depending on the individualistic perception and on which demographic group the consumer

The quality obtained for the price invested

Perceived product value which is – according to the means- end adaptation model of product evaluation – the final step leading to purchase, is a subjective and individualistic attribute resulted mainly by the tradeoff between price and quality. Price is said being the “give component” and quality, the “get component”. Obviously, consumers have a preference for products that involve more “get” than “give” components. The relation between price and quality evaluation is then analysed to identify which incentive has the most significance on product evaluation and perception.

Product Price evaluation

Price is the only determinant which implies a concession or a sacrifice from the consumer. As a consequence, some might think that it is the most important factor leading to purchase decisions. However, being linked to value perception, the importance given to price varies with the extrinsic variables included in value perception such as the utility of a product.

It has also been proved that consumers tend to check prices only when the product is highly valued. For instance, according to a report from Dickson and Sawyers (1984) on the proportion of consumers checking prices before purchase (including every demographic groups) for toothpaste, coffee, cold cereals and margarine, only 54.2 to 60.6% answered positively. Among the respondents, 58.5 to 76.7% stated that price is not important for those types of products. Moreover, the importance of money and the concepts of “cheap” and “expensive” vary depending on the demographic group of each consumer.

Thus, prices alone do not have a huge impact on the perceived value of a product. As mentioned previously, price might be thought as being the most important influence on evaluating product value and on purchasing decision. However, the importance of price depends on individual factors, their knowledge about the price of products from the same category, informations consumers have about the product and if those intrinsic and extrinsic features are worth the money invested. In definition, it is difficult to understand how customers encode prices and products.

Product Quality evaluation

As discussed earlier, price is connected to the perceived value of products but also to product quality perception; as price itself is considered as being an extrinsic attribute and stimulus of product quality evaluation.

Product quality evaluation or perceived quality is defined as the customer’s subjective perception of a products quality or superior excellence. It differs from the objective quality ─ either measured by the characteristics of the product or manufacture ─ which is an integrated attribute of a product.

Perceived quality has a bigger influence on product evaluation and perception. In fact, most of the researchers think that product quality is always subjective because it is in any cases perceived by someone’s eyes.

As mentioned, product quality evaluation also has intrinsic and extrinsic incentives. When evaluating product quality, consumers think about the product’s internal features but also external ones such as the brand name, logo, advertising or price. As being an extrinsic cue, price is considered by scientifics as a low level determinant among others, influencing product quality evaluation.

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