I was talking to someone the other day about the plush bean bag toy collecting frenzy of the 1990s. During this time a certain brand of animal-shaped plush bean bag toys were collected for their value. People kept them in pristine condition in plastic boxes and covered their distinctively shaped tags with specially shaped plastic “tag protectors”. Everyone assumed, like other collectibles, they would grow in value. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. However, they make a great example of one of my favorite topics in branding – Perceived value.

Now much like the name suggests perceived value has to do with the way we view or understand the worth of an object. Worth or value does not have to be financial in nature. The worth could be in the provided solution or the customer’s experience.

Value is not stagnant. Our businesses and our brands change over time. It’s just the nature of the world to constantly and slowly be in flux. The same goes for perceived value. Much like the bean bag toys were viewed as high value in the 1990s and low value now so too are our offers viewed like that by our customers. The way we view things and the worth or value we attach to them changes too.

Something I see a lot with older businesses is the idea of things never changing. They decide that what people want now are the same things they wanted or needed 30-plus years ago. This isn’t always the wisest assumption. One of the best ways to grow your brand is to make sure you’re very dialed into what your customers want and what they determine is valuable right now.

One of the easiest ways to figure that out is to track your sales receipts and your suggestion box. By looking at what people are asking about and what they are actively purchasing you can determine how people view its worth. Then decide if you should keep an item “on the menu” or pull it off and retire it. You can also use those items as a seasonal special to drive sales, if appropriate.

The bottom line is this, just because you sell something that you think or know people need, they may see that differently. People buy (or don’t) based on what they think the value of something is for them, which is why knowing your audience matters.

Alright, that’s all I got. If you need me, to help you stay ahead of customer expectations, drop me an email! Talk to you soon!