Marketing Client Perception Studies: Definition & Process

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Understanding how your brand, business, products, or services are viewed by customers is a critical insight for any company. In this lesson, you'll learn more about client perception and the process for conducting a study.

Check Yes or No

Remember your first childhood crush? Maybe it was a neighbor or a classmate or someone you attended church or another social event with. Perhaps you smiled at each other, chased each other on the playground, and passed notes in class. You might even have passed a note that asked, 'Do you like me? Check yes or no,' with boxes for childhood checks that showed your true feelings.

Client perception studies can tell you how people view your brand or business.
Client perception studies can tell you how people view your brand or business.

Client perception studies are like the grown-up version of passing that 'Do you like me?' note. They give you insight into what someone thinks about your brand, business, products, or services.

What is a Client Perception Study?

A client perception study is a tool for collecting opinions on your company's performance, image, products, pricing, and more. Though all brands and companies strive to be the best at what they do, sometimes that does not translate into how people feel about your products or services. One of the best ways to determine how a person feels about you is simply to ask for their frank, unbiased opinion.

Client perception studies, built on the foundation of your customers' and prospects' opinions, can provide valuable insight into what you're doing right and where there might be room for improvement.

Client Perception Studies

The study itself can be fashioned in many forms. Most commonly, it occurs as a type of standardized survey or questionnaire or a one-on-one interview. It could also be part of a more comprehensive perception feedback process that includes social listening (the act of actively listening to your customers' opinions through social media), comment boxes on your website and elsewhere, and focus groups (a gathering of people who provide feedback in a group setting).

Surveys are typically a low-cost choice that produces a fast turnaround time. They provide quantitative data, information that can be measured and tallied. Interviews or focus groups delve into qualitative data, where more in-depth opinions, feelings, and thoughts can be gathered.

Aside from the information you can gather into making your business better, perception studies benefit a business in a number of other ways:

  • Shows that the company cares what its customers think
  • Fosters relationships between the brand and its audience
  • Helps you stay on top of developments in your industry

How to Develop

Before crafting your perception study, assess what business goals or objectives you hope to achieve through the study. Are you trying to learn more about how your brand is perceived? Are you wanting data on a new product? Are you struggling in a certain area and want to know why? The goals you identify will help guide the structure of your study.

Next, you want to identify a list of potential clients or customers who can be study participants. Don't limit the group to only people you know, or long-time customers or just new customers. Choose a mix of customers that represent a wide cross-section of your overall audience.

How to Conduct

Experts say that the best method for conducting perception studies is via telephone, utilizing an independent interviewer. If you are close to your customers or they know that they're speaking with someone directly involved in the business, they may be more reluctant to be completely open and honest. Using an independent surveyor allows the participants to retain a certain level of anonymity (perhaps the survey itself it entirely confidential) and the freedom to truly say how they feel in response to the questions asked.

Ask a variety of questions, including questions about your customers themselves, which can be a good ice breaker to get people talking. Be certain your questions are not structured only to serve your own interests. Seek a combination of quantitative numbers, such as a section that asks for opinions on a 1 to 5 scale, and qualitative responses, where you can dig deeper into a person's opinions and thoughts. Here is an example of a quantitative question followed by a qualitative one:

Quantitative: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being highly likely, how likely are you to recommend our business to your friends and family?

Qualitative: Why did you choose the number 3 on the 1 to 5 scale?

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