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.

May 27, 2023

Perception Study


Perception is everything. It shapes the way you see the world, the way you interact with others, and the way you make decisions. But have you ever stopped to consider how your perceptions are formed?

A perception study (also called a perception audit) is a research method designed to understand how people perceive a particular topic, product, or brand. It involves collecting data from a sample group of individuals and analyzing their responses. The goal is to gain insights into the factors that influence perception and how those perceptions can be shaped or changed.

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?

A perception study can help.

During a study, you'll find out how your customers feel about your brand. This feedback can then be used to refine your messaging, adjust your marketing strategy, and improve your overall brand perception.

Perception studies aren't just for marketing. They can be used in a variety of industries, from healthcare to education to politics. By understanding how people perceive a particular topic or issue, organizations can develop more effective communication strategies to reach their target market.

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

Investor relations (IR) strategy is crucial for any company as it helps to maintain a positive image in the market. For businesses to thrive, it's important that investors feel confident in the company they have invested in.

An investor perception study can be designed to give companies insight into how the investment community perceives them and their industry. This type of study helps companies gain insight that will help them improve their IR strategy.

A study also provides companies with a roadmap for improving their investor relations efforts. By understanding how investors perceive them, companies can develop targeted strategies for addressing investor concerns. For example, if investors are worried about a company's recent financial performance, the organization can focus on improving its financial reporting and management transparency.

Brand Development

Conducting a study of your existing customer base can help you uncover strengths and weaknesses related to your brand positioning, products or services, business model, and financial performance. The company’s executive leadership team can then use this information to develop a new strategy designed to capitalize on the company's strengths or fill any gaps in the corporate portfolio. It may also open up opportunities for expanding into a broader market based on customer needs that were not previously identified.

Perception studies also show organizations how well their messaging strategy is working to attract the target audience. If a brand's message doesn't resonate with the audience, all marketing initiatives will fall flat. Perception studies can show organizations where and how to adjust so they can continue building strong relationships with customers and improve organic growth efforts.

Finally, companies looking to rebrand could benefit from an audit. It can help them pinpoint what it takes to create a successful identity, such as selecting the correct logo or creating slogans and mission statements that will have the most influence.

Perception Survey Goals

When launching a perception audit project, the first step is to set goals. These goals provide financial guidance by helping the audit team allocate resources during the audit. Goals also ensure that the management team can measure and assess progress.

Common goals of a study include finding out if customers understand how new products fit into existing product lines, which product features consumers value most, and what they might pay for these products. 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 in the market landscape, and evaluating company culture—such as growth potential, hiring practices, and risk factors.

Brand Identity
IMAGE: Perception is a building block for every strong brand identity.

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 will avoid leading questions as much as possible because these interfere with outcomes and skew the audit results. For example, asking someone which brand they prefer instead of what other brands they consider can result in dynamically different conclusions.

Survey Groups

Survey groups (or focus groups) can offer valuable insights into how consumers perceive a company's products or services. When interviewing people for the research, it's important that brands make sure these groups are diverse and qualified in order to provide accurate insights.

When it isn't possible to conduct a perception audit (because of changes made in messaging or lack of access to qualified survey candidates), then a qualitative study can serve as an alternative solution. Experienced researchers or industry experts will pre-arrange interviews with candidates to get their insight into experiences, perceptions, behaviors, and opinions related to the company’s products and services.

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.

Having a sample size that is too small can lead to skewed results—any outliers can carry more weight than they should—while a sample that is too large makes for an expensive and complicated study.

In making your calculations, there are several important factors to consider, such as population size, margin of error (typically between 2 and 5 percent), confidence level, and standard deviation.

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 scope of research and 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. Ultimately, an hourly or project rate fee schedule will determine the cost of the perception audit.

On average, perception audits start at around $10,000 for basic services, but prices can increase based on the size and complexity of the study, as well as whether 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 be motivated to engage with 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 your brand. Our team of experts 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 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 messaging and content that resonates with them on a deeper level.

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

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 web 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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