Perceptual benefit versus Real benefit

This blog is following a debate with my colleagues over how you distinguish between a perceptual benefit and a real benefit.

Every product has some real benefits and perceptual benefits. For example, in the case of a sports bike, the real benefit could be having a speedy ride on the roads and the perceptual benefit could be having a macho image or getting a girl. The perceptual benefit depends from person to person based on his perception of the brand image. With the same sports bike, you may have some other perception altogether.

Now I come to the point which created the debate. Let us take the example of an aromatic soap. There is a complete consensus that the real benefit of a soap is to clean the skin. Now coming to the aroma of the soap, there is a difference in opinion on whether it is a perceptual benefit or a real benefit. My take on it is as follows:

There are two cases of usage of perceptual benefit.

Perceptual benefit to mean customer’s association:

If you think of the perceptual benefit from the customer’s association perspective, the perceptual benefit can be perceived in different ways. My perceptual benefit of possessing an iPod may be different from that of the other. The simplest way to categorize is ask if the product management induced the benefit which is true in the case of an aroma for a soap. The aroma is deliberately given to the soap which is a real benefit. In the case of the sports bike, the perceptual benefit of getting a girl is not productised, rather it is perceived by the consumer based on the brand image. In this case the macho image is a perceptual benefit because you are not doing anything in your product management to give a girl along with every bike.

Perceptional benefit to mean intangible benefit:

If we use the word perception in ‘perceptual need’ to mean intangibility then aroma of a soap is a perceptual need.


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