Absolute Threshold and the Differential Threshold

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Absolute Threshold and the Differential Threshold

By | December 2010
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Discuss the differences between the absolute threshold and the differential threshold. Which is more important to marketers? Explain your answer. For each of these products—chocolate bars and bottles of expensive perfume—describe how marketers can apply their knowledge of differential threshold to packaging, pricing, and promotional claims during periods of (a) rising ingredient and materials costs and (b) increasing competition.

The absolute threshold is the minimum intensity of stimulus required to be perceived. In other words, it is the intensity amount which is needed to detect the difference between nothing and something. It is the lowest level at which an individual can experience a sensation. On the other hand, the minimal difference that can be detected between two stimuli is called the difference threshold or the j.n.d. (just noticeable difference) The main difference between the two concepts is that the differential threshold is a relative concept. Whereas the absolute threshold deals with whether or not a stimulus can be perceived, the differential threshold refers to the intensity difference needed between two stimuli before people can perceive that the stimuli are different. The marketing implication of absolute threshold is that consumers will only perceive a marketing stimulus when it is higher than absolute threshold. In other words, if images or words in a commercial are too small, consumer’s sensory receptors will not ve activated and the stimulus will not be perceived. The differential threshold also has very important marketing applications Manufacturers and marketers endeavor to determine the relevant j.n.d for their products for two very different reasons: (1) negative changes (e.g.,reductions in product size or quality or increase in product price) are not discernible to the public (ie., remain below j.n.d) and (2) product improvements(eg., improved or updated packaging, larger size or lower price) are very apparent to consumers...
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