At least that’s the case in the minds of consumers because to them their perception is the reality, and marketing is all about manipulating those perceptions to gain an advantage.
Famously, in a head to head blind taste test, the majority of people who took part believed that Pepsi-Cola tasted nicer than Coca-Cola – until they saw that it wasn’t Coca-Cola. This was because they had been conditioned to believe that Coca-Cola was the best, and as customers, our minds can be hard to change because we tend to believe that we are right.
Similarly, for years Volvo were perceived as the safest cars on the road – it was one of their fundamental core values. Realistically, nowadays, many other cars are just as safe as a Volvo, but it’s hard to shift the perception of Volvo as the champion of car safety – and would any other manufacturer try and jump on the safety bandwagon as one of their core values now, after the consistency and persistence of years of Volvo advertising campaigns? You might prefer another car brand, but it probably won’t be because you think that it’s safer.
We believe what we want to believe based on perception – our own or other people’s – and rarely are our perceptions based on any evidence or actual experience of our own.
Obviously, having a great product is important. Consumers are not stupid, but a huge amount of marketing is about getting people to believe that something is true – regardless of whether it is or not.