Perception vs. Reality

While businesses long perceived as “bargain” or “discount” options have been doing well during our current recession, many other businesses typically perceived as “upscale” have been suffering.  In response to the consumer’s change in spending habits, most businesses have begun to offer specials, discounts and less expensive options.  The question is, does your target market know this?

While dining at Dragonfish restaurant earlier this week, I took advantage of one of their tempting $10 entrée offerings.  I also brought in my parking ticket and got $5 off my check to cover the cost of parking.  Both of these items address perceptions; one is that it’s too expensive to eat out, the other is that it’s expensive to park in downtown Seattle.  These values are communicated not only once you arrive and are handed a menu, but on their website and Facebook Fan Pages as well as Tweeted to followers.

Lots of businesses have to deal with the differences between consumerperception and the new reality.  When I say “upscale downtown salon” you probably think “expensive”.  If I mention the cozy waiting area, fresh coffee, tea and iced water, fresh flowers, fireplace and beautiful glass mosaic floor in the restroom; now you are likely thinking “I can’t afford THAT!”

So what is a reasonable price for a stylish haircut,particularly for ladies?  What is the “value” of looking professional to your career?   The downtown Gene Juarez salon has tackled the perception up front with their front window signage:

What discounts, bargains, specials or values are you offering in response to the change in spending habits of your customers?  How are you letting people know?  Don’t wait for customers to wander in to learn about your promotions or even the everyday value you offer, address perceptions boldly so your reality isn’t a “going out of business” sign!

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