With reference to the case study below, what is the usefulness of perception in a marketing strategy?
Many people in the world drink milk out of a box every day. Long life milk manufactured by Parmalat is specially processed without any preservatives. The milk has been heated until the bacteria causing spoilage are destroyed and it can last for five to six months without refrigeration.
When Parmalat first introduced its product, it was expected that customer acceptance would be immediate and high. The product concept sounded good however the actual products sales were extremely low. Customers could not understand the concept of fresh milk in a dry goods box. Some felt that the name Parmalat sounded like baby formula. In some rural areas, doctors have found that customers perceive the concept of „long life‟ to be pasteurized milk that can be given to new born babies, thus ensuring „long life‟ for their children.
Every product that is made has certain objective properties. In the example given below, the milk undeniably has no preservatives. It clearly comes in a box. Objectively speaking, it has a shelf life that is quite long. All of these things are verifiably and objectively true. However, for the purposes of marketing, the objective truth does not mean all that much. In marketing, the consumers’ perceptions are rather more important than objective truths.
In this particular case, we see that the consumers’ perceptions generally were much different than what the Parmalat people would have expected. They expected consumers to perceive a product that had no preservatives and yet could be stored for a long time. This would seem like a really attractive product. But the problem was that people perceived it instead as something that was strange. The packaging of liquid milk in a box was such a foreign concept that it put customers off. This illustrates the importance of perception. When you are trying to sell something to people, the only thing that matters is how they perceive it. You will not be able to sell even an objectively superior product unless people perceive it to be superior.