Marketing is a battle of perceptions…


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In his 2008 book In Search of the Obvious, Jack Trout makes the case that the minds of customers or prospects are difficult to change. And for some, these perceptions are often interpreted as a “universal truth.”

Trout goes on to say:

“It’s easier to see the power of perception over product when the products are separated by some distance. For example, the three largest-selling Japanese imported cars in America are Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Most marketing people think the battle between the three brands is based on quality, styling, horsepower and price. Not true. It’s what people think about a Toyota, a Honda or a Nissan that determines which brand will win.”

“Japanese automobile manufacturers sell the same cars in the United States as they so in Japan. If marketing were a battle of products, you would think that the same sales order would hold true for both countries. After all, the same quality, the same styling, the same horsepower and roughly the same prices hold true for Japan as they do for the United States. But in Japan, Honda is nowhere near the leader [as it is here in the US]. There, Honda is in third place, behind Toyota and Nissan. Toyota sells more than four times as many automobiles in Japan as Honda does.”

“So what’s the difference between Honda in Japan and Honda in the United States? The products are the same, but the perceptions in customers’ minds are different.”

Trout then makes the point that in America, if you told friends that you bought a Honda, they might ask “What model? Civic or Accord?” If you told friends in Japan that you bought a Honda, they would probably ask you what model motorcycle did you buy? The perception in the United States is that Honda is a car manufacturer. That perception in Japan is totally different – they view Honda as a motorcycle manufacturer.

Here’s the takeaway: Marketing is not just a battle of products – it’s also a battle of perceptions.


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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Lefler
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group -- a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster by providing unique value at the product level: specifically product marketing, pricing, and innovation. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.


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