Perceived quality vs. actual quality

I have a love/hate relationship with snobbery. Love to indulge in it, hate it when others do, particularly against things that I like. I was thinking about it today in terms of brands and how people love to hate things that are popular. Henceforth I devised a couple of hypotheses.

Hypothesis 1: As the popularity of a brand grows, its perceived quality grows to a point, then begins to fall, while actual quality remains static or grows.

Example: Microsoft software gets better and better, but as they get more popular, people begin to dislike them more and more.

Hypothesis 2: The difference between internal perceived quality (what we believe the quality to be) and external perceived quality (what we say we believe it to be) grows as the brand gains in popularity.

Example: people say they hate Wal-Mart and would never shop there, but they would be more likely to if they knew no one would find out.

My favorite examples that I’ve thought of so far: Microsoft, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart. Three of the most successful companies on the planet, yet many people I know love to rail on them, despite the fact that they’ve had a huge positive impact in the world. You may not agree on that last point, but I really don’t care…that’s not the point of this post.

PS – It occurred to me while writing this that perhaps this is a reflection of my friends more than the world at large 🙂