1 January 2017

This essay reviews the implications of selective perception, perceived quality and perceived risk on two premium brands of male cologne. The two brands chosen were Fahrenheit by Christian Dior and Boss by Hugo Boss. Consumers often unintentionally use selective perception to sift through stimuli and concentrate on stimuli that meet their needs, desires, interests.

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Each brand of cologne is perceived differently because of the varying nature of the ‘stimuli’ itself, experiences and motives. Next, perceived quality of the colognes is examined, which depends on both intrinsic and extrinsic cues. The perceived risks of each cologne are similar since they are both high end products albeit differences in fragrances and needs of designated consumers. It is concluded that each brand of cologne is perceived differently because of the enunciated raison d’etre and carry implications for marketers in marketing each brand.

Perception is termed as the “process by which an individual receives, selects and interprets stimuli (unit of output to the senses) to form a meaningful and coherent picture of the world” (Schiffman, Bednall, O’ Cass, Paladino, Ward & Kanuk, 2007, p. 136). The perception of a product differs from individual to individual, influenced by a range of variables. Three specific variables that will be discussed are that of selective perception, perceived risk and perceived quality, in relation to two brands of male colognes.

These two brands are Christian Dior Fahrenheit and Boss by Hugo Boss. Both colognes are premium brands while the perception of each one varies owing to differing individual needs, expectations and values. Hugo Boss, Boss was launched in 1985 and is deemed as an ‘authentic and powerful’ fragrance containing a blend of aromatic spices, herbs with a masculine tobacco note (Reviews of Hugo Boss Boss for men, n. d. ). Christian Dior Fahrenheit was launched in 1988 and had the most triumphant initial three-month sales of any fragrance launch up to that time (1. 4 million bottles in Europe alone).

It was created with the notion of an original, unique perfume, with a floral (but not feminine) scent that could be distinguished from the ubiquitous scents based on Mediterranean cocktails (Kevin, 2007, para. 1). As can be assessed from their descriptions, each cologne is establishing a somewhat different image from the other. 1. 2Selective Perception Individuals spend a great deal of time evaluating various brands across many product dimensions. Selective perception is a “process whereby a consumer can differentiate between very similar brands (or products)” (Bolfing, 1988).

Which stimuli get selected depends on ‘the nature of the stimuli itself, consumers’ previous experience which affects their expectations and their motives (i. e. needs, desires, appeals)’ (Schiffman et al, 2007, p. 144). There are a vast number of variables comprising marketing stimuli that influence a consumer’s perception. Taking a look at the Christian Dior Fahrenheit bottle (Appendix I), the bottle design and brand name are attributes of stimulus that affect perception. The bottle is red in colour, which is analogous to the name of the cologne, Fahrenheit.

Consumers can draw parallels between the name of the cologne and the colour/design of the bottle. Red symbolises ‘hotness’, which is striking to men. Furthermore, as can be seen from the Fahrenheit advertisement, which is also a variable of stimuli (Appendix II), it is connoting the sunset where the cologne blends in, with a man looking on. It can thus also be recognized as a cologne for the evening for an ‘outdoorsy’ man. Christian Dior is an established and renowned brand from which consumers expect high end colognes with fragrant scents.

Thereby consumers would expect Fahrenheit to meet their expectations, and have looking at the figure of sale in the first quarter of its introduction. If consumers were seeking a cologne for the outdoors, as well as seeming attractive to the opposite sex, they would opt for this cologne. Often, earlier experience with the cologne could also stimulate consumers to repeat the purchase, especially if the cologne seemed to meet expectations. Experience can affect both the qualities which are perceived when an odour is smelled and, relatedly, its judged similarity and discriminability from other odours (Case, Stevenson & Dempsey, 2004).

As for Boss by Hugo Boss, scrutinizing the advertisement (Appendix III), the bottle and hence the cologne is perceived to be of a masculine temperament, especially from the image of a male model in a suit. If the needs of the customer are a masculine scent as well as a cologne representing an elegant, manly nature, consumers would select this cologne. Therefore, consumers ‘judge each product on the merits of relevant brand attributes (Bolfing, 1988). Uncomplicated advertisements and repetition of a key brand attribute can induce consumers to purchase either of these colognes.

Boss’s fragrance of aromatic spices and masculine tobacco, and Fahrenheit’s original, unique floral scent would have to satiate the expectations of the consumers of each of these colognes. The perceived quality would be also be determined by the brand names of each cologne, since both of them are reputable brands, as well as the price. These would be the extrinsic cues of perception of the colognes. Besides, excitement and sophistication are most strongly associated with perceived quality.

In addition to the traditional use of price signals and brand name, brand personality is an important cue that marketers can use to signal the brand’s perceived quality to the consumer (Ramaseshan & Tsao, 2007). 1. 4Perceived Risk Perceived risk concerns the undesirable product consequences that consumers want to avoid when they buy and use products (Peter & Olson, 1996, p. 90). It has been observed that consumers are more often motivated to avoid mistakes than to maximise utility in purchasing (Mitchell, 1998).

There are several kinds of risk that consumers may perceive in a purchase situation. Of the ones regarding the purchase of a cologne, they would be: i)Financial risk, as both colognes are high end products hence comparatively expensive to low-priced perfumes. Consumers would expect the colognes to meet the perceived value and not have been a squander of money. ii)Performance risk would be of interest as consumers would desire the fragrance to last for prolonged periods of time, given the spices (Boss) and floral scents (Fahrenheit) used. ii)Psychological risk can be of concern too, since no man would want Fahrenheit, with a ‘floral’ scent to make them feel feminine, or Boss, with a hint of tobacco to avert members of the opposite sex, which would lead to guilt of purchase.

There are various risk reduction methods, as proposed by Roselius (Stem, Lamb & Maclachlan, 2001; Loudon & Bitta, 1993). Of these, which can be used for reduction of risk or colognes are: i)Endorsements- these colognes are advertised using endorsements/testimonials of masculine models. ii)Major brand image- both brands of cologne are prominent in the perfume industry hence reduction of risk. ii)free sample- free samples are often given out of colognes before one is purchased. iv)word of mouth- if the colognes have pleased other users, one of the colognes could be purchased, depending on the needs and desires of the individual.

It can thus be gathered that selective perception, perceived quality as well as risk, all have an impact on the perception, image as well as eventual purchase of both colognes. Consumers filter through unwanted stimuli, focusing on stimuli that meets their needs and desires, as the description of each cologne and their advertisements suggest.

High perceived quality reduces perceived risks (Snoj et al, 2004). Thus, Christian Dior being a premium brand, is professed to be of high quality, consequently reducing purchasing risks of Fahrenheit. They have implications for marketers on the colognes themselves, pricing, advertising, positioning and other related applications. In conclusion, both Boss and Fahrenheit are perceived differently because of the brand itself, the positioning, assertions of each cologne as well as the expectations of the consumers, despite being similar products.

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