… is that it makes people mad.

I’m seated on my flight, on my way to Los Angeles at 6:00 AM.  I’m sleepy, cramped and really hungry.  Shortly after takeoff, a flight attendant approaches asking if I would like to purchase something to eat.  “Do you have something for vegetarians?”

“Yes!  We have fruit and cinnamon rolls.”  She held up the bag of cinnamon rolls, displaying golden packaging.  “There are three in here, you two could split it.”  She motions towards my husband.

I don’t want either, but I decide to go with the cinnamon rolls, knowing that my husband loves cinnamon rolls just a little less than he loves me.  The bag looks huge in her hand, so I know there would be more than enough.

As she hands the package of rolls to me, something strange happened.  Somehow, the package shrinks in my own hands.  I look back at the flight attendant, who is now walking away, and note her unusually small hands- especially for a woman who is at least 5’7″.  I open the package and discover three small cinnamon rolls slightly larger than a quarter.  My husband, in an effort to be positive, suggests that we eat 1 1/2 each.

As I munch on my breakfast with my two front teeth, I wonder- Is this a case of bait and switch?  I’d like to believe that airlines do not  purposely hire flight attendants with unusually tiny appendages.  I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy moved the football.

Now that I have had a good meal, I have the brainpower to consider how the situation applies to marketing.  How many customers walk away unhappy not because a promise was not fulfilled, but because the product/service did not match their initial perception?  While it may not be the providers “responsibility” to manage perception, it is certainly to the benefit of the brand to manage perception and expectations and then meet or exceed them.