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Perceptual Processes

15 January, 2016 - 09:19

Recall that we first discussed perception when we discussed buyer behavior in Chapter 3 "Consumer Behavior: How People Make Buying Decisions". The perceptual process is how a person decides what to pay attention to and how to interpret and remember different things, among them information included in advertising. When you choose to take an elective class or select a television show, a magazine, or a radio station, you are selecting what information you are exposed to and also deciding what gets your attention.

Think about being at the beach again. You’re with a friend, but when you hear someone else say your name, you may pay more attention to the person talking about you than to your friend. The same thing happens when you watch a television show or read a magazine. You might be watching a show when the phone rings and then pay more attention to the person on the phone than to what is on the television. You might be studying for a test and your friends show up and your attention shifts to them. With so many different types of distractions and technology such as recording devices, imagine how difficult it is for an advertiser to get your attention.

If an advertiser does get your attention, do you interpret the information correctly or do you change (distort) it? If a friend tells you a story, then you tell another friend, and that person tells someone else, will the message be the same after it is relayed to multiple people? If you miss class and borrow someone else’s notes, do you understand what they mean? Not only must advertisers try to present consistent messages (IMC), they must also try to ensure that you interpret the message as they intended.

Advertisers also want you to remember their brands and organizations. When you study for an exam and memorize key terms, you may not remember them after the test. But hopefully if you hear the terms multiple times, you will remember them. Advertisers use the same strategy to try to get you to retain their messages. Not only do you see the same commercial or message in multiple places, but you may also see it multiple times in each place. However, advertisers must also be careful that consumers don’t get so tired of the message that there is a negative effect.

Do you remember information from classes your freshman year? Do you know your friends’ phone numbers or e-mail addresses, or do you just find their names on your contact list? Which commercials do you remember? What gets your attention? Sometimes annoying or humorous messages get your attention and you remember the commercial. Advertisers want you to remember their brand. A great promotion is not effective if people don’t remember the brand. We tend to remember information that has some relevance to our personal situation or beliefs. For example, if you have no need for a product or service, you might not pay attention to or remember the messages used to market it.


Many factors, such as a firm’s marketing budget, the type of product, regulations, target customers, and competitors, influence what composes the promotion mix. Depending on what medium is used, marketers use the communication process to encode or translate ideas into messages that can be correctly interpreted (decoded) by buyers. However, marketers must determine how to get consumers’ attention and avoid as much interference and noise as possible. Perceptual processes include how a person decides what to pay attention to and how to interpret and remember different things.


  1. Explain the communication process and factors that can interfere with interpretation of messages.
  2. What is the perceptual process and how does it relate to promotion?
  3. What is the difference between encoding and decoding a message?