In a world where consumers are increasingly being offered reliable, stylish and feature laden products, smart businesses are using perceived quality as a tool to differentiate their products, to mark them out as something special.

High levels of perceived quality can transform a functionally competitive product into a more desirable, premium product, for which a premium price can be commanded.

Ultimately, superior perceived quality results in increased demand, a stronger brand and increased profits.

 

What is perceived quality?

Perceived quality (otherwise known as craftsmanship) is the impression of quality that a customer has about a product, brand or business through sight, sound, touch and scent.

It’s the customer’s perception of a product’s robustness and reliability, the impression of care and craftsmanship invested in its manufacture, the sense of richness and strength of the materials used and the feeling of the depth of engineering behind the design.

This is quite separate from reliability, robustness or the functionality of a product, all of which are vital to have a competitive product but none of which will mark a product out as special or propel it into the "premium" segment.

 

How does perceived quality work?

A customer's perception of the quality of a product is predominately a result of subconscious thought. Most people will have an intrinsic ability to determine a product’s quality from looking, feeling and listening to the product. Often, an opinion is formed in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Ask a customer why they feel a certain product is of superior or inferior quality and their response will be limited; they know but often they don’t know how they know.

For example, imagine viewing a new car in a showroom for the first time. Within the first few moments, you will be able to tell whether the product is of fine quality or not. You will see the lustre of the paint finish, the alignment of the panels, the sparkle of the chrome brightwork, the harmony and elegance of design treatments. You will feel the robustness and fluidity of the door handle movement. You will hear the precision and solidity of the door mechanisms. All of these inputs will allow your brain to subconsciously determine if you are assessing a vehicle of superior quality that is worthy of a price premium.

Understanding perception and dissecting each sensory input is the first step in designing products that will delight all of the senses and give the customer that initial "wow".

For the last 11 years, I have specialised in the field of perceived quality, working in conjunction with business leaders and their product designers, engineers and marketing executives across diverse products and in multiple regions and markets. I have helped them understand, define and implement high levels of perceived quality in their products, leading to great market and financial success.

 

Marcus Roffey

Perceived Quality Consultant