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CONSUMER PERCEPTION DEFINITION AND MEANING OF CONSUMER PERCEPTION: The term “perception” can be defined as the ability to derive meaning. Derived from the word “perceive”, it refers to the ability of giving meaning to whatever is sensed by our sense organs. It is the process through which an individual interprets ones’ sensory impressions to give meaning to them. Schiffman defines it as “the process by which an individual selects, organizes, and interprets stimuli into a meaningful and coherent picture of the world.”DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PERCEPTION AND SENSATION: There is a difference between perception and sensation. Sensation is the ability of our five sense organs to sense a stimulus. It is an auto reflex mechanism (direct and immediate) of our sense organs, i.e. eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin towards a stimulus in the environment. This stimulus could be anything, a person, object, situation or thing. In terms of marketing, it could be a product, a brand name, an advertisement or even a store. Thus sensation is the reaction or response of a sense organ or a sensory receptor towards a stimuli. Perception is much broader in scope. It is complex process by which a person organizes facts around the stimuli and gives meaning to it. The perceptual process depicts a complex and dynamic interplay of three processes, viz., selection, organization and interpretation. The person selects the stimuli and organizes and interprets the input received from the sense organs, so as to give a meaning to the stimuli. Thus, for example, as a person is caught by a new packaging of a familiar brand, he picks up other stimuli on the package through his senses, as well as organizes other facts from internal (memory) and external sources (dealer, packaging) etc, so as to conclude that the package is new but the brand is old and familiar. This is perception. While the sense organs report a change in the form of flashy colours on the packaging, the human mind works cognitively and organizes other information around it to give a meaning and arrive at a conclusion. This is referred to as perception. Thus while sensation is physiological, perception is broader and includes not only the physiological component but also the sociological and psychological component. While perception starts with sensation, it ends up when meaning is given to the stimuli, through cognitive processes. While sensation picks up bits and pieces as stimuli, the cognitive processes involved in perception can add to/delete/modify the diverse sensations and information. Also, while each one of us would be similar in sensing a stimulus, the way we interpret it would be different. In other words,

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selective perception

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