Everyone views the world in the different way. No two people receive the same information and interpret in the same ways. They can colour it and distort it to fit their own concept of what has happened. The resulting image may bear little or no relation to the information presented to the individual. The human brain places a cognitive filter between the world and the individual's perceptions.
To embrace the marketing concept, to attempt to fulfil the needs and wants of the individual, requires that these needs and wants can be described by the marketer, and translated into a bundle of benefits and attributes (goods or services). Thus it is essential for the marketer to understand how the individual processes this wealth of internal and external information that allows them to make an assumption concerning a product. The marketer when knowing this, can provide the necessary information to the individual to facilitate the formation of a belief a product.
This need to know how the individual processes information into product beliefs, is doubly important for the manager in an organisation. Firstly, the manager must understand how the individuals within the company process such information when they are purchasing from external suppliers. Secondly, it is important to understand how the company's customers process the information available that will lead to their beliefs about a company's products.
The modern manager is confronted by the strategic necessity to produce a superior product or service. Superiority is described in terms of quality_ To the manager this means creating a product that exceeds the benefits of a competitor's product. Quality to the consumer is something of innate goodness or superiority capable of creating wellbeing.
Of importance in this research is how the individual within the organisation perceives quality. This is important to the internal manager of those individuals, and the marketer attempting to sell products to these individuals.
This research developed in conjunction with the schema outlined by Brinberg & McGrath (1985), takes the first step in developing a methodology that seeks to determine the quality perception of the individuals within industrial buying centres. The buying centre and its behaviour are examined to describe the context in which these quality beliefs are formed. The methodology seeks to form a structured and valid way of collecting the information which allows the individual to formulate quality perceptions. The instrument was developed from a pre-test to a pilot-study mechanism for examining organisational buying centre members perception of quality. It allowed the gathering of data in personal interviews and focus group meetings. This research is a valuable first step in the accumulation of knowledge about the concept of quality
The research developed several empirical findings which will serve as reference points for further research The first and most important aspect is that price is the most important extrinsic quality cue for the organisational buyer, they relate this to the quality of the product. Secondly, the form and structure of the buying centre is formalised, however this does not necessarily mean organisation. Activity in the centre can be haphazard and unplanned. Thirdly, quality as it is perceived by the industrial buying centre member refers to the ability of a product to meet the specifications as defined in a purchasing agreement (tender document), not innate excellence or superiority. Fourthly, there is a poor understanding and acceptance of total quality management concepts. Also, the organisational buyer is subject to a large amount of information concerning the quality, attributes and cues, of an endless range of products, they attempt to minimise the amount of information they do. Finally it is difficult to separate the concepts of perceived quality and perceived value as they appear in the substantive domain. In addition, relationship between these concepts and satisfaction is also extremely difficult to determine in a standardised format of research.