Monday, December 12, 2011

Got Value?

Any marketer worth her salt is familiar with the concept of value-based selling. But where is value derived? Can customers be sub-segmented based on their core value drivers?

It depends on the customer and on the buying decision at hand. It is a pretty safe bet that some element of the experience is at play in just about every buying decision--whether that experiential element is the level of convenience in making a low touch purchase--i.e. pack of gum that is prominently placed at the grocery store checkout counter--or the amount of attention a customer receives from a service department after making a large-volume, high dollar IT purchase.

In general, the more risk that’s involved and the higher the touch in a buying decision, the larger a role an individual’s value system will play, relegating him or her to a segment of one.

And if you think about it, experiential elements stem from consumer values in all aspects of life. Recall the last time you bought a house or car, decided whether to commit to a personal relationship, or chose to take a new job. What was involved in that decision? If you’re like many people, you made a list of desirable attributes that became decision criteria.

Many of the value-driven attributes on our lists reflect our desire not only to benefit from the positive, but to avoid negative experiences we’ve had in the past. For example, a person who felt lonely in a past relationship may seek affection in the next one; the car buyer whose last vehicle broke down unexpectedly on the highway may prioritize reliability in his auto purchase; and the legal assistant who felt unappreciated in her last job may seek a new role with a firm that has a formal recognition program.

I admit to using such lists to organize my thoughts for all of those big decisions, and that they all stem from my values and desired experiences. I value safety in a vehicle over comfort; attentiveness and fidelity in a relationship over financial abundance; creative freedom in a job over title and bonus incentives. For these, I could be listed among sub-segments of people who share similar values. However, other elements I seek separate me from these segments. For example, growing up in small spaces amidst a large family, I developed an affinity for storage space. For me, sharing a closet is a stronger indicator of commitment in a relationship than a ring. When evaluating vendors and contractors for work, past experiences with a few who required extensive amounts of management time lead me to look for people who are resourceful problem-solvers.

So the next time you are considering your segmentation models for your marketing efforts, look through the wider lens of desired experiences stemming from individual values.

Oh, and stay out of my closet!

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