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?