How to Use a Perception Study to Research Your Market 

Get inside the minds of your audience to discover their true feelings with a perception study and gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

June 27, 2023

Perception Study


Have you ever stopped to consider how you form your perceptions?

Perception is everything. It shapes the way you see the world, interact with others, and how you make decisions.

A perception study—or perception audit—is a research method designed to understand how people view a particular topic, product, or brand. The process involves collecting data from a sample group of individuals and analyzing their responses. The goal is to discover the factors that influence perception and how to influence those perceptions.

Imagine you’re a marketing manager for a new product launch. You’ve done your market research, developed your messaging, and created your advertising campaign. But how do you know if your message is resonating with your target audience? And if it is, how can you improve it?

A perception study can help you answer these questions.

During a study, you’ll find out how your customers feel about your brand. You can use this feedback to refine your messaging, adjust your marketing strategy, and improve your overall brand perception.

Perception studies aren’t just for marketing. They’re used in a variety of industries, from healthcare to education to politics. By understanding an audience’s perception of a particular topic or issue, organizations can develop effective communication strategies to reach their target market.

In this post, you'll learn how to conduct a perception audit, including best practices and methods that will ensure success.

Why Should You Conduct a Perception Study?

There are several reasons to conduct an audit. In this section, we will look at the two most common.

Investor Perception Study

For brands to thrive, it’s important that investors feel confident in the company and its future. Companies will have a hard time developing a strong IR strategy without understanding investor sentiment.

An investor survey can help organizations gain insight into how the investment community and key stakeholders perceive them and their industry. Survey results can help them develop a stronger investor communications strategy.

Companies can use a study to develop a roadmap to help them improve their investor relations efforts. By understanding investor perception, companies can develop targeted strategies for addressing their concerns. For example, if investors are worried about a company’s recent financial performance, the organization can improve its financial reporting and providing management transparency.

Brand Development

Studying the customer base and their views of a company can uncover insights related to the brand, its product, business model, and financial performance. The company’s leadership team can use this information to develop a new strategy designed to push the company in the right direction. Insightful feedback can also reveal how to fill any gaps in the corporate portfolio or repair the company's image. A study may also open up opportunities for expanding into a broader market based on customer needs that weren’t previously identified.

Perception studies can help organizations determine whether they need a new messaging strategy to attract the target audience. If a brand’s message doesn’t resonate with prospective customers, all marketing initiatives will fall flat. Perception studies can show companies where and how to adjust. This enables them build strong relationships with customers and improve organic growth efforts.

Finally, businesses considering a rebrand can benefit from an audit. Findings from the audit will help them figure out how to create a successful brand identity. As a result, they can develop elements such as the logo or slogans and mission statements that will have the most influence.

Perception Survey Goals

When launching major projects like a perception study, the first step is to set goals. These goals provide financial guidance and help the audit team determine data collection processes. Goals also help the management team measure and assess progress.

Common goals of a study include finding out if customers understand how new products fit into existing product lines. This includes which product features different people value most, and what they might pay. This information is useful for companies looking to create new product lines or repurpose existing ones.

Other common goals of an audit include attracting future investors, assessing investor perceptions of the business within the general population, and evaluating company culture. A study could also help companies develop hiring practices, risk factors, and gauge growth potential.

Perception is a brand pillar
Perception is a brand pillar

Perception Study Methodology

In most cases, it’s best to use a neutral, third-party auditor who will make the respondents more comfortable offering their true opinions. Auditors avoid leading questions as much as possible because these interfere with outcomes and skew results. For example, asking someone which brand they prefer instead of what other brands they consider can create dynamically different outcomes. Instead, ask open-ended questions on each specific topic to get the most accurate results.

Survey Groups

Survey groups (or focus groups) can reveal how consumers perceive a company’s products or services. When interviewing people for the research, it’s important to make sure these groups are diverse and qualified. This is the best way to get accurate insights.

Sometimes, it isn’t possible or feasible to conduct a perception audit. This could be because of changes made in messaging or lack of access to qualified survey candidates. In these cases, a qualitative study can serve as an alternative. A qualitative approach requires experienced researchers or industry experts to pre-arrange interviews with survey candidates. During these interviews, they will ask open questions to get each person's perception of the company’s products and services based on their experiences, behaviors, and opinions.

How Many Responses Do You Need?

The number of responses needed to get the best results from a perception study can vary significantly. Between 30 and 50 responses will suffice for most surveys. However, it’s important to consider sample size carefully in order to be confident in the data.

A sample size that is too small can lead to skewed results. Any outliers can end up carrying more weight than they should. A sample that is too large makes for an expensive and complicated study.

There are several important factors to consider. Population size, margin of error (typically between 2 and 5 percent), confidence level, and standard deviation are examples.

Ultimately, it’s best to work with a perception audit specialist who can help you determine the ideal number of responses needed for your survey. The optimal range is 50-100 responses. For qualitative studies, fewer may be acceptable.

What Is a Brand Audit?

A brand audit helps organizations uncover strengths and weaknesses, improve target audience quality, become more competitive, and reduce marketing expenses.

How Much Does a Perception Audit Cost?

The cost of a perception study can vary depending on the methods used. On average, most studies will require open-ended interviews, which can range from just a few phone calls to hundreds of in-person interviews. Most perception audit projects are based on an hourly or project rate fee schedule.

On average, perception audits start at around $10,000 for basic services. But prices can increase because of the size and complexity of the study. The price could be higher if the project team needs to perform additional market research services.

The Brand Auditors: Turning Words into Measurement

Your customers’ perception of your brand is everything. If they don’t see your brand in a positive light, they won’t respond to your marketing campaigns or make a purchase.

But how can you know how your customers truly perceive your brand?

The Brand Auditors provides perception study services that can help you gain valuable insights into how your customers see and feel about your brand. Our team of experienced professionals uses proven research methods to gather data on your brand’s perception, including surveys, focus groups, and data analysis. We’ll help you understand what your company's strengths, what customers love about your brand, and what they wish you would change.

Armed with this information, you’ll be able to tailor your marketing efforts to better meet your customers’ needs, preferences, and desires. You’ll have a more accurate picture of your target audience, so you can create new strategies that get results.

Are you ready to take the first step toward building a stronger, more successful brand? Click on the button below and schedule a free call to learn more about our perception study services.

Chris Fulmer

Chris Fulmer

Brand Strategist | Managing Director

Chris Fulmer is a professional brand development manager who provides expert insights on brand strategy, media channels, and other essential information required for marketing success. This includes market research, analytics analysis, and digital design best practices.

Are you ready to find out how a brand audit can transform your business?

Our brand audit process is a comprehensive analysis designed to help companies increase ROI and reduce marketing expenses.

  • Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
  • Reduce marketing expenses.
  • Strengthen brand positioning to become more competitive.

We guarantee satisfaction or get your money back! Schedule a discovery call with a brand auditor to find out more.

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