How to Use a Perception Study to Research Your Market
Do you want to conduct a perception study to understand your market better? In this blog, you'll discover the benefits of a study and best practices.
January 17, 2024
A perception study, or perception audit, is a market research method that helps organizations understand consumers’ views of a company, topic, or product.
To perform a study, an auditor collects data from sample customer groups. Then, they review and analyze their responses to discover and leverage the factors that influence customer perception.
This post will teach you how to conduct a perception study. It also includes best practices and methods for success.
A perception study example
We will look at an example to illustrate how a perception audit can help a company improve.
Imagine a company that makes athletic shoes. They have recently launched a new line of eco-friendly sneakers, but sales are lower than expected. So, the brand conducts a perception study to find out why.
The study reveals that most consumers still see the company as a sports shoe brand. They are not aware of the company’s eco-friendly initiatives. Many customers like sustainable products but don’t associate the brand with these values.
Using these insights, the shoe brand revamps its marketing by launching a campaign that shows their commitment to sustainability. The campaign highlights how the brand uses recycled materials to make their new sneakers. They also showcase customer testimonials about the comfort and style of their shoes.
Then the company adjusts its brand positioning to emphasize its role in sustainability. They take part in eco-conscious events and collaborate with well-known environmental activists. Their advertising now communicates their dedication to both athletic performance and environmental responsibility.
As a result, customer perception shifts. People begin to recognize the company for sports shoes and sustainable footwear. This change in perception leads to increased sales. The brand’s eco-friendly initiatives are now a key selling point.
Why should you conduct a perception study?
There are several reasons to conduct a perception study. In this section, we will look at the two most common.
Investor relations (IR) strategy
For businesses to increase value, investors must feel confident in the brand and its future. Organizations will have a hard time developing a strong IR strategy without understanding investor sentiment.
An investor perception study reveals how the investment community and key stakeholders feel about a brand and its industry. The survey results help companies improve their investor relations efforts.
For example, if investors worry about the company’s recent financial performance, the organization can develop a long-term plan to enhance revenue. Consistent financial reporting may also help.
Studying a brand’s customer base can uncover insights related to its products and operations. The company’s leadership team can use this information to develop a new strategy to push the brand in the right direction. Insightful feedback can also reveal how to fill gaps in the corporate portfolio or repair the brand’s image. A study may also open up opportunities for expanding into a broader market. This expansion might be based on customer needs that weren’t previously identified.
Vulnerabilities are another key area evaluated. This includes identifying the brand’s weaknesses, potential threats, and offers, so companies can address them and build greater resilience.
Perception studies can help determine whether a business needs a new messaging strategy. If a brand’s message doesn’t resonate with the target audience, all marketing initiatives fall flat. Studies can show companies how to build strong customer relationships and improve organic growth efforts.
Finally, businesses considering a rebrand can benefit from an audit. Audit findings will show them how to create a new brand identity that will make the most impact.
Perception survey goals
The first step in the study process is to set goals to guide the audit requirements and 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. Examples are product features people value most. This information assists companies looking to create sub-brands or repurpose existing product lines.
Other common goals of an audit include attracting future investors, evaluating company culture, and developing hiring practices.
Perception study methodology
Usually, it is best to use a neutral, third-party auditor. These professionals will make the respondents more comfortable offering their true opinions. Auditors know how to avoid leading questions as much as possible. Leading questions interfere with outcomes and skew results.
For example, asking which brand someone prefers instead of what other brands they consider can generate different responses. Open questions are the best way to get the most accurate results.
Survey groups (or focus groups) are another way to determine how consumers perceive a brand or product. These groups should be diverse and qualified to get accurate insights.
Sometimes, it is not possible or practical to conduct a perception audit. This could be because of budgetary restrictions or limited 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 carefully selected candidates. During these interviews, they will ask open questions to get each person’s opinion of the company 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. Between 30 and 50 responses will suffice for most surveys. However, consider the sample size 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 other essential factors to consider. Population size, margin of error (typically between two and five percent), confidence level, and standard deviation are examples.
It is usually best to work with a specialist who can help you determine the ideal number of responses needed. The optimal range is 50-100 responses. For qualitative studies, fewer may be acceptable.
How much does a perception study cost?
On average, the cost of a perception audit starts at around $7,500 for basic services. Prices can increase because of the size and complexity of the study. The price could also be higher if the auditor needs to perform extra market research services.
What factors play a role in the cost of a study?
The cost of a perception study can vary depending on the methods used. Most studies require open-ended interviews. These interviews can range from a few phone calls to hundreds in person. Most perception audit projects are based on an hourly or project rate fee schedule.
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