Consumers are constantly exposed to advertisements, from magazines to newspapers to television shows, etc. Advertising is an integral part of every marketing processes that spreads the word regarding products or services. Undoubtedly, advertisements present numerous benefits. Aside from introducing a company and its product line, advertisements reach a broad category of customers and bring them in your store. By employing a means-end analysis, market researchers can identify the values, benefits, and attributes associated with an advertisement.

Value Identification – Means-End Chain Theory

Marketers and business owners utilize various techniques to understand customer purchasing decisions, which are sometimes quite difficult to determine. In a survey or during an interview, respondents sometimes may have a hard time explaining their reasons for purchasing a certain product or service.

The Means-End Chain Theory explains that customers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by attributes, consequences, and values. In this model, a relationship exists between the company’s customers and its products. Analysis of this relationship is examined via the creation of an associative network between the product’s attributes and consumer values. To clarify, the attributes involve the characteristics or features of the product or service that influenced their purchasing decision, consequences of using the product (the manner by which the product or service influenced the consumer), and consumer values (motivations that propel the consumer’s decision).

Influence: Attributes, Consequences, and Value Identification

Generally, the attributes in the Means-End Chain Theory answers the following questions:

  • Why did you pick this product or service?
  • Why is it good or bad?
  • Why is the product or service significant or relevant?

“Why did you pick this product or service?” while the consequences justify “Why is it good or bad?.” Moreover, the core values explain “Why is the product or service significant or relevant to the business or to you?.” To illustrate this, let us say that Joe purchased a sports car. The attribute that led Joe in buying the product is its convertibility. For Joe, driving the sports car gives him a feeling of being young and unrestrained; hence, the consequences. The values present when using the sports car is that the aura of being young increases his appeal and makes him attractive.

Aside from consumer goods, a means-end analysis is also used in business-to-business scenarios or B2B. Through means-end analysis, marketers will not only determine the immediate consumers’ needs and wants, but also identify the needs and wants of other people involved in the supply chain. If the end customer benefits are recognized and communicated by the marketer, even the smallest part of a product that consumers may deem to be insignificant can command a premium.

To further understand what product features have to be changed or improved, the means-end analysis can be modified in such a way that visual pictures will be analyzed instead of poring over verbal reactions and feedback. For example, a student conveyed his annoyance and disappointment over his laptop by making a cartoon of a turtle carrying his laptop. This represents the laptop’s slow processing capabilities, which is very frustrating especially for a student who has lots of things to accomplish.

Effect of Advertising

When designing an advertisement, there are five factors to take into account: the Spokesperson, Message, Target Audience, Media Channel, and Desired Results. The primary concern during the advertising process is the advertising effect or the desired results. Once the effect is established, the remaining four determinants will follow. There are different means of communications that are contributory in identifying the advertising effect: naming, wording, describing, picturing, symbolizing, and animating.

Communicated Value Identification, Benefits, and Attributes of Advertising

By employing a means-end analysis, one can assess and measure how effective an advertisement is. It is fairly common for advertisements to convey values and attributes, and communicate benefits. When companies make a distinction and feature their selling points through advertising, it triggers competition. This is favorable for the customers’ part since there will be constant product development and advancement.

In general, a typical advertisement shows a product’s attributes through its features, cost, style, and reliability. Moreover, comfort, origin, and quality are among the common benefits communicated in advertising. Personal values include trust and understanding, while high order values propel behavior.

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