Monday, 17 March 2014

The Real Reasons Why People Buy Stuff

I’m going to start by quoting Zig Ziglar: 
“People don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons.”

Most successful marketing begins with knowing your audience’s logical reasons to purchase something and understanding the emotions or values behind them. An effective method to gather this information is called laddering research, and it is based on the idea that a brand or product achieves consumer loyalty after having given their consumers three levels of benefits.

How Laddering Research Works
Brand Ladder is a term that defines the three different levels of benefits that a brand or product provides to its consumers: attributes, functional benefits, and emotional benefits. Laddering research can help marketers get to the core values and emotions that truly drive purchases.

a) Attributes: this refers to the features of a product that are most easily recognized by consumers. More often than not these are the physical attributes of a product or brand. For example: “I like this phone because it has a touchscreen.”

b) Functional Benefits or Consequences: this refers to the benefits that the consumer receives directly from the attributes. There might be more than one consequence per attribute. For example: “I like the touchscreen because it’s the latest in technology.”

c) Emotional Benefits or Values: this refers to the core values to which each consequence is linked and that effectively drive consumers’ purchasing behavior. For example: “Having the latest in technology is important to me because all my friends have it.” Following this rationale, we can infer that a sense of belonging is an important value for this consumer.

How to Conduct a Laddering Interview
A laddering interview is usually conducted with a focus group of people who represent your product's or brand’s target audience.

First, you should start by asking each participant what kind of features are most important to them in a certain product. Following our previous example, you would ask: “What is your favorite feature on this phone?” 

Based on their response, you can then turn to ask questions that will reveal the Functional Benefits of the product. To achieve this, you should ask questions such as: “Why is the touchscreen your favorite feature?” “How does having a phone with a touchscreen benefit you?”

Finally, to reveal the Emotional Benefits or core values that drive purchases, ask the same type of why questions based on their answers about the Functional Benefits. For example: “Why is having the latest in technology important to you?” “How does having the latest in technology benefit you?”

By asking “why?” based on previous answers you will elicit more thoughtful responses that will eventually reveal the emotional values of the consumer.

Applications for Laddering Research
Once the research is done, you can typically pool all the different responses and map them into a Hierarchical Value Map, which illustrates the attribute-consequence-value connections by listing the many product attributes mentioned, then linking those to a smaller set of consequences, which are then linked to a core set of emotional values. You should then be able to pin-point the core values that you can use to develop unique selling propositions in your ads.

And that, my friends, is how you find the real reasons people buy stuff.

Have you used the laddering interview method with a focus group? Have you used laddering to come up with advertising campaign? If so, was it helpful? Let me know in the comments below or tweet @swagger_media.

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