Market Research Qualitative Research

Values Mining: The Key to Consumer Motivations

Marketers talk a lot about motivating consumers to do something, whether it’s to purchase a product, use a service, or support an idea or cause. However, motivation is not really the beginning. To truly motivate consumers, you first have to understand their values.

[See our previous blog for motivation as a strategy: Would You Rather Persuade, Manipulate, or Motivate? Three Selling Strategies]

Values are the fundamental principles or standards that drive an individual’s judgment of what is valuable or important in life. Values, therefore, define the desirability of something. The amount of time or money a consumer is willing to spend to acquire or achieve something depends on the values of that individual: Values define worth which motivates consumer behavior. Marketers can more effectively achieve the desired consumer behavior if they understand the consumers’ values and use those to connect to their customers.

Too often, marketers use the word “value” to mean (or at least include) money or price. While we usually imply that a business’ “value proposition” includes benefit delivered for the price and effort given, that is not what we are talking about here. Understanding consumer values means learning what they hold dear or reverent in their lives, what standards guide them, what lines they will not cross, and what creates meaning for them.

And that means going deep. Consumers do not give up their deepest, fundamental principles and thoughts easily – but making the effort to truly understand your market at that level can deliver a huge pay-out.

How We Mine for Value

Each Values Mining project is different and driven by the needs of the business, the category, and the industry. Simply stated, it is an iterative process that applies different qualitative and (sometimes) quantitative methodologies to create a 360 degree, comprehensive, and fundamental view of your customers and the market. To start, develop a thorough understanding of your business, including the fundamental profit drivers, and then examine all of your existing research. You might interview leadership or line employees. All of this effort guides the insights delivered that can be applied to your key marketing and branding efforts.

Once you have this information, turn to the market and dig deep to find and polish those gems of value and turn them into critical recommendations to improve your business by motivating customers with more efficiency and faster results. This phase might include some combination of focus groups, ethnographies, digital bulletin boards, or in-depth interviews. The key is identifying and learning about the core values of the individuals in important segments of your market that can drive your category and brand.

Using Mined Values

Because Values Mining usually involves significant effort for businesses, it tends to be applied to strategic issues that are inhibiting growth and success:

  • Product Portfolio Design and Optimization. Once you understand your customers’ values, how well are you meeting their needs? Do you have all the products they want or are there gaps? How do your competitors stack up? Do you have products that overlap and cannibalize each other? The goal here is to create a product line that fits with your customers’ values – and build brands that connect with them more intimately.
  • Communications Development. Communications that reflect and connect with your customers’ values are the most motivating. Once your marketing and creative staff understand what values are driving your category, they can develop an efficient marketing strategy, and communications plan to meet and exceed business goals. Beyond what value segments to target with what messaging, we can also identify imagery, sounds, and iconography that will appeal to and connect with your consumers on a meaningful personal level.
  • Competitive Advantage. Understanding your customer segments’ values allows you to take a fresh look at your market and develop competitive approaches that will drive differentiation. By creating stronger connections with your customers, you give them a competitive-inoculation: you make it that much harder for them to switch to a competitive brand. Additionally, in those cases where competitors also understand and appeal to customer values, this helps level the playing field and allows you to compete with stronger and more efficient marketing efforts.
  • Value-Align Your Organization. Unleash the power of values mining by sharing the results throughout your organization. Whether Marketing, Sales, Operations, or Leadership, when everyone understands what values are driving customers to choose your product and brand, they are better able to innovate and continually build and enhance your business’ connections to customer values.

Values mining is not a quick-fix. It is an investment in your company’s future. The benefits are profound, but the effort is profound as well. Values mining changes your perspective and your paradigms by taking your current view of your business and tilting it in different ways to illuminate insights. Values mining is the product to take your business to the next level.

Interested in Values Mining? Let’s talk!

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