The Perception is the Reality


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Beloit College recently released their Mindset List for the class of 2014. This year’s list contains 75 items that provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of this fall’s entering class. Most of this year’s freshmen were born in 1992, just for fun; take a look at the world through their eyes:

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”

4. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.

5. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

6. Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren’t afraid of immigration…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.

7. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

8. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

9. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

10. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

11. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

12. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

13. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

14. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

15. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in less than 30 minutes.

16. It seems the Post Office has always been going broke.

17. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.

18. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

In general, the Mindset List is a statement of experiences and events that shape the views of this year’s freshmen. And since most people believe their views are accurate it must also represent their understanding of the truth. The perception is the reality.

Marketing is involved in the process of dealing with perceptions. What makes the process even more challenging is that consumers frequently make purchasing decisions based on second-hand perceptions (friends, family and other social connections). In short, they make purchasing decisions based on someone else’s perception of reality. If your organization views the world through a product-centric position you may be inclined to dismiss the perception challenge. Market research facts and figures convince you that the real truth is on your side and that the best product – your product, will win. Do you believe that all you need is to have the truth on your side? If so, you may need to modify your perceptions and embrace the phrase “through the eyes of the customer.”

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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