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What Factors Affect the Perception of Quality?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2014
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A number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors go into the perception of quality from customers and potential users of services. Intrinsic factors are internal to the product or service, while extrinsic factors are external; a wine’s color, for example, is internal, while the packaging of crackers is external. Understanding how people make quality assessments is important for producers, salespeople, and other parties involved in transactions.

One factor can be the environment. When people walk into a store, the impressions they form play a role in the perception of quality. Store layout and presentation can have a significant impact. A store with clean, tidy displays can be perceived as higher quality. Lighting and atmospheric factors like the color of the paint on the walls and the fixtures can also be important for customers making judgments.

Loud, cluttered environments tend to decrease the perception of quality. Stores with a quieter environment, not just acoustically but also in terms of design, can project an air of quality that appeals to consumers. Soft colors, gentle lighting, and understated displays can all play a role in this. If stores are too sparse, however, it can degrade the perception of quality, because customers may believe the poorly populated displays are evidence of a failing business or poor organizational skills.

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Reputation, including word of mouth and impressions built up through advertising, can also be important factors. Companies that project images of quality and market their products in association with luxury lifestyles, for example, are often perceived to produce products of better quality. Packaging and labeling play a role in the creation and maintenance of an image. Companies may utilize specific color schemes and brand messaging to create subtle suggestion for customers.

Another factor in the perception of quality is pricing. High prices tend to be associated in the minds of consumers with higher quality. They may not necessarily purchase the most expensive items in a store, however. Creating a mix of high-priced items mixed with items at slightly lower price points can lead customers to believe a store’s overall offerings are of high quality, in which case they may purchase items in the more affordable range on the grounds that they are sound buys.

Physical impressions created through intrinsic traits are also important. Someone buying a car, for example, may identify a car that runs quietly, handles well, and has attractive accessories like leather seats and wooden details on the dash as being of higher quality. Conversely, cars that run rough and have simple interiors might not be viewed as favorably.

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