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Perceived, Expected, True Value

Perceived, Expected, or True?

There’s something about the art of acquiring users and retaining them that almost no one speaks about.

Everyone talks about USPs and user value.

But if you master these three concepts, you’ll shine in the meeting room:

  1. Expected Value
  2. Perceived Value
  3. True Value

Value expectation drives purchases, value perception retains customers, and true value is the actual benefit delivered.

“Sell ‘em what they want, give ‘em what they need!”

Everyone has heard this. But no one thinks about it with these nuances.

Value Stages of a Subscription

Let’s look at a simple digital subscription product you need to buy before you can use it over time (but the same principle applies to 90% of purchases we make).

Consider a digital subscription, like a fitness app, that you must buy to use. Take Freeletics, for example.

Before subscribing, I'm drawn in by cool ads and positive feedback from friends. I envision getting fit and developing a regular workout habit. This expectation of the app guiding me and tailoring workouts seems worth the money (even if the actual product is still a black box).

That's pure expected value.

After subscribing, I don't see instant results but enjoy the app's UX and feel good post-workout. I believe the AI gets my goals, even though the fitness gains aren't visible yet.

This is perceived value only.

After using the app for two weeks, I notice changes when I look in the mirror. My arms have grown and my abs have started to show. Plus, I've gotten much better at the exercises.

I now see the true value Freeletics delivers.

Perceived Value x True Value

Now, the link between perceived and true value is critical.

Perceived value without eventual true value is deception.

Yet, initial perceived value is essential to engage customers until true value emerges.

If a product delivers significant true value that users don't recognize, that's a missed opportunity. My ongoing training with Freeletics boosts my endurance, power, mental strength, and even mood. But if the app doesn't highlight these improvements, it's leaving potential user satisfaction and retention on the table.

Here's the takeaway: If perceived value falls short of true value, improving UI/UX could be an easy win for user satisfaction and retention.

In short:

  • Expected Value draws customers in.
  • Perceived Value keeps them engaged.
  • True Value is the real deal but must be recognized by users.
  • A gap between perceived and true value often points to a UI/UX opportunity.