Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Laddering Research

When we conducted laddering research at Hallmark, we discovered that most product and brand benefits ultimately supported the underlying need to preserve self-esteem. (Laddering is a research technique that probes consumers to better understand underlying basic human values the brand addresses. It investigates benefits that underlie product attributes, consequences that result from the benefits, and values that underlie the consequences. The results are often mapped to outline the brand’s benefit structure.) Different benefits may have followed different paths to that end, but, ultimately, the need that they fulfilled was the same fundamental one: to preserve self-esteem. We explored certain emotional end benefits—self-affirmations that contribute to different aspects of a person’s self-esteem; among them:
  • I am frugal.
  • I am competent.
  • I am successful.
  • I am a good mother.
  • I am a good wife.
  • I am a good friend.
  • I am unique.
  • I am lovable.
  • I am making a positive difference in the world.
  • I am in control of my life.

Although the following data is from a study conducted decades ago, it points out that some of the most powerful motives are fundamental ones. Some of the most effective advertising over time has tapped into these motives. I have observed that the most powerful brands and products are those that help people stay healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In fact, brands and products that can help people with the following (largely spiritual needs) are extraordinarily powerful:
  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of community
  • A sense of self-worth
  • A sense of well-being
  • Personal empowerment
  • Healthy, trusting relationships
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Joy

To that list you could also add communication that taps into any of the higher order needs from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: affiliation, esteem, or self-actualization.

Reprinted from Brand Aid, available here
© 2015 Brad VanAuken

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