Adding To The Noise

A critical view of new media, new technology and new marketing.

Which came first the product or value?


As a marketer I’m always looking for a good connection between product attributes and values that consumers care about. Because if you can convince a consumer that they can achieve that value by purchasing your product you have a strong emotional appeal.

In my Consumer Behavior class we study the Rokeach Value Survey which classifies values into terminal values like happiness which is a desired end state and instrumental values like ambition which is a prefered behavior to get you there. Mostly I’m trying to get students to think beyond simply marketing product benefits like “fast” for a sports car. Instead we should try to leverage the instrumental or terminal values a target consumer wants to feel. Your message and creative should match product with that value.

For example, does the new Dodge Charger make the driver feel “fast?” Or does driving it activate their instrumental value of “independence” or terminal value of “freedom?” This consumer is chosing an American muscle car in a recession during high gas prices. How does that consumer’s values differ from the value one feels driving a Mazda Miata or a Porsche Boxster?

Going a step further from product characteristics like “fast” for sports cars to values like “independence” and “freedom” can create product differentiation and powerful emotional appeals. Can you see how Dodge has been using consumer values to segment their marketing from other “fast” cars? Check out this example:

About these ads

Author: Keith A. Quesenberry

I'm a professor in the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University. For 17 years I was an advertising professional as an associate creative director and copywriter working on marketing campaigns for large International Fortune 500 companies to small regional businesses. Here I lead and develop multiple communications and marketing courses from traditional to social media. I pull from my professional experience, teach theory, and use interactive methods to inspire and help prepare future leaders in today's fast paced innovation driven business environment. I am also active in academic research. I have published journal articles, lead workshops and presented at academic conferences including AAA and AEJMC.

2 thoughts on “Which came first the product or value?

  1. As a media consumer, I love the dodge challenger ad. But being the skeptical fact driven type – I won’t buy this car until I know that some combination of mpg/rpm/xyz KPI is good for me and outperforms all other cars. Am I an odd consumer – or should we focus on end benefits when advertising cars/other products (this ad but focusing on DC beating all other cars in XYZ KPI)?

    • I think it is a combination. You fall in love with something first then seek rational justification. This TV ad may peak your emotions then you go on the website for the MPGs and horsepower, etc for rational justification.

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