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What Is a Perception Survey?

By Maggie Worth
Updated May 16, 2024
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A perception survey is a study or research project completed with the goal of collecting impressions about a company, product, program or issue. Such surveys can be given to a variety of audiences for a range of purposes and are often administered by businesses with the intent of uncovering consumer opinions. Surveys may be verbal, written or electronic, and can range in length. The primary distinction of a perception survey is that it is intended to discover opinions rather than factual data.

Unlike other types of studies that focus on actions and behaviors, such as shopping and buying habits, a perception survey seeks to uncover what people think. This data will be predominantly qualitative, meaning it is based on opinion rather than fact. Questions can be presented as yes/no or multiple choice, or participants could be given a scale of descriptors, such as "good, better, best" from which to choose. Other questions may be open-ended, meaning that the respondent can answer in her own words.

One common use for a perception survey is to collect consumer opinions about a company or product. A business can design and administer its own survey or contract with a survey company to do so. Companies may want to find out whether customers view their business as friendly, approachable, cutting-edge, green, responsible, a leader, traditional, modern, easy to do business with, and more. They also might want to know if consumers view a product as over priced, cheap, well made, valuable, easy to use, convenient, appropriate to the customer lifestyle, necessary or a luxury. The range of opinions a company might seek is extensive, and the list of options is often based around the way a company wants to be seen.

The results of a perception survey are important to businesses. These findings can tell a company what consumers like and don't like, whether or not they trust the company and whether they would recommend the company to a friend. Consumer opinions influence consumer behavior, so this type of data is critical to helping businesses grow. As with many surveys, perception surveys routinely include demographic questions, such as age, sex and income level, so that data can be more easily sorted.

The business sector is only one user of perception surveys. Governmental, political and social organizations often conduct such surveys to find out how the general public feels about a proposed law or a current issue. Employer companies also might conduct perception surveys among employees regarding benefits, working conditions or the status of the company. Likewise, clubs and organizations might ask if the membership feels the group is headed in the right direction.

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Discussion Comments
By AnswerMan — On Mar 12, 2014

@Cageybird, I don't have much of a problem with being strongly opinionated, but I sometimes get bored with these kinds of surveys. I'll go to a particular grocery store because it's close to my house or has an item on sale, but then I'll be asked to take a survey about my shopping experience. I realize my opinion might be useful to the store's manager, but honestly I wasn't paying that much attention while I was shopping. I do much better when the perception survey is about political issues or other things I've had time to form strong opinions about.

By Cageybird — On Mar 11, 2014

I've taken a fair number of perception surveys, and I still don't know if I've been completely honest on most of them. Asking me to rate something on a scale from 1 to 10 assumes that I know what a 1 and 10 experience feels like. My responses rarely go above an 8 or below a 4, just because I don't want to skew the final results. I feel the same way about surveys that want me to "strongly disagree", "somewhat disagree", "have no opinion", "somewhat agree" or "strongly agree". I don't know if I've ever strongly agreed or disagreed with anything in my life.

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