Consumer Perception Theory

by Lee Flamand; Updated September 26, 2017

Consumer perception theory is any attempt to understand how a consumer’s perception of a product or service influences their behavior. Those who study consumer perception try to understand why consumers make the decisions they do, and how to influence these decisions. Usually, consumer perception theory is used by marketers when designing a campaign for a product or brand. However, some people study consumer perception in order to understand psychology in a much more general sense.


In general psychological terms, perception is our ability to make some kind of sense of reality from the external sensory stimuli to which we are exposed. Several factors can influence our perception, causing it to change in certain ways. For example, repeated exposure to one kind of stimuli can either make us oversensitive or desensitized to it. Additionally, the amount of attention we focus on something can cause a change in our perception of it.


A brand, or a brand name, is the attempt to impose some kind of identifying feature on a product or service so that it is easily recognized by the general public. A brand is oftentimes associated with an image, a set of expectations or recognizable logo. The goal of a brand is to set a product or service apart from others of its kind, and influence the consumers to choose the product over similar products simply because of its associations.

Positioning, Repositioning or Depositioning

Positioning is the process whereby marketers attempt to build a brand. Marketers actively try to create an image which is both recognizable and appeals to a certain group of people or target market. Repositioning is the process of altering this image, usually in order to influence a larger target market and thereby influence the behavior of a greater number of consumers. Depositioning is the practice of trying to devalue alternative, competing brands in the perceptions of a shared target market.

Value and Quality

Value refers to the perceptions a consumer has of a product's benefits when weighed against its cost. Value can be measured both qualitatively--the emotional or psychological pleasure a consumer derives from a product or service--and quantitatively, in terms of the actual financial gain it wins them. Quality can be related to value, and may be taken into account when measuring the value of a product or service. More formally, it refers to the way in which a product or service relates to its competitors, or else conforms to a set of measurable standards.

Buyer’s remorse

Buyer’s remorse is a strong feeling of regret which occurs after a purchase has been made. It is a specific case of cognitive dissonance, or the psychological state of worry or unease which comes about when attempting to come to terms with conflicting ideas, perceptions or motives. Buyer’s remorse usually occurs after a consumer has made a purchase he or she has come to regret. Generally, it involves the realization that the opportunity of purchasing one product or service over another in some way outweighs the value of the purchase. In this regard, it occurs when a consumer’s perception of a purchase changes after he or she has already invested in it.

About the Author

Lee Flamand holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California at Berkeley. A committed generalist, he writes on various topics. He currently resides, works and studies in Berlin, Germany.

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