- Learning Objectives
After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
- Explain why people buy and consume the things that they do and discuss
the meaning of and relationship between consumer needs, wants, and motivations.
- Appreciate the diversity of human motivations and understand the relationship
between motives and culture.
- Identify four classic approaches for accounting for human motivation and
derive managerial applications from these theoretical approaches to motivation.
- Describe some research methods for identify motives.
- Discuss the concept of involvement and how it is applied in consumer behavior
and explain the difference between low-involvement and high-involvement
- Discuss some measurement approaches for assessing consumer involvement.
- Chapter Overview
Classic Theories of Motivation
- Why do people do the things they do? More specifically, why do they buy
and consume the products, services, experiences, and brands they do? This
question is at the core of consumer behavior, and this chapter provides
- Although human motives have been studied for a long time, there are many
ways of thinking about motives.
- We define motivation as an inner drive that reflects goal-directed
arousal. In a consumer behavior context, the result of this internal
drive is a desire for a product, service, or experience.
- From a marketing management perspective, it is crucial to bring marketing
strategy in line with consumers' motivations and needs.
- In this chapter, we discuss both drives and goals as aspects of motivation.
A drive is an internal stimulus. For example, hunger, thirst, pain, and
other physically experienced states are described as drives. Other emotionally
experienced states such as the desire for affiliation or self-esteem can
also be described as drives. Goals are ends or aspirations that
direct action. To be considered a motive the goal should have independent
power to bring about action.
- Understanding the goals consumers are pursuing can provide important insights
into many aspects of their behavior, including how they perceive and interpret
the world around them.
- Human motivation is the product of interaction between events and things
in the social world and interpretations of those events and things in people's
- Motivational psychologists typically distinguish needs and wants. They
describe needs as broad, fundamental biological and psychologicalrequirements
that propel behavior, including the need for food, water, and shelter.
Wants are described as the particular form of consumption that
iscapable of satisfying underlying needs, for example what food
is consumed to relieve hunger. However, consumers don't always experience
distinctions between wants and needs and in fact, in many such cases, the
distinction is trivial.
- In this chapter, we will discuss some new insights into consumers' minds
that can help us understand the relationship between culture and motivation.
- In addition to discussing motivations, drives and needs, we also introduce
the companion concepts of effort and involvement. Effort reflects
the time and energy consumers are willing to commit to a goal. Felt
involvement is the psychological outcome of motivation. Pursuing
goals, the motivated consumer may feel interest, excitement, anxiety,
passion, engagement, and flow. These are feelings of involvement with
the goal objects.
- Marketers have a renewed interest in understanding why consumers do what
they do. They want to get inside the behaviors and understand the reasons
for those behaviors.
- To some extent, it may seem confusing that there are so many (sometimes-conflicting)
accounts and lists of human needs. One reason for this is that needs are
not directly observable. They are psychological constructs. We cannot see
or touch a need or a motivation or want. We can only infer the existence
of such concepts. Four motivational frameworks are considered:
- Sigmund Freud's concept of drives (e.g., as mediated by the id, ego, superego).
- Carl Jung's concept of archetypes (e.g., the self, the great mother, the
- Abraham Maslow's concept of needs hierarchy (e.g., physiological needs,
- Henry Murray's list of human needs (e.g., abasement, acquisition, affiliation).
- Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
- Sigmund Freud, an Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst, born
in 1856. His insights about the existence of the unconscious mind profoundly
changed our notions about human motivations and needs and are now part
of our everyday thinking. Some argue that Freud's methods and conclusions
were in error. Nonetheless, his work continues to exert strong influence
on many current beliefs about human motivation.
- Overview of Freud's Theory
Jung's Psychoanalytic Theory
- In brief, Freud described how many observed (abnormal) behaviors were
easily explained if we consider the powerful unconscious forces at play.
- Freud believed that the human psyche is broadly divided into the conscious
and the unconscious. The ego represents the conscious mind.
It is composed of perceptions, thoughts, memories, and feelings.
The ego gives the personality a sense of identity and continuity.
In many respects, Freud's notion of ego is a precursor to modern theories
- The unconscious mind is called the id. It includes
all the instincts and psychic energies that exist at birth. In
this sense, the id (to a large extent) is biologically determined.
- The motivations that derive from the unconscious mind are both innate
and unique to the individual. These strong motivations must be satisfied.
From this perspective, human life can be understood as a constant struggle
to find a way to control the surrounding environment so as to achieve
goals and drives which emanate from the id. The power of the
unconscious is so strong that ignoring its impulses can cause the rational
processes of the ego to become distorted and result in neuroses, phobias,
delusions, and other irrationalities. In this sense, Freud concentrated
his attention on abnormal behaviors. His account of human motivation
is very much an account of abnormal individuals people, who for one
reason of another, had troubled fitting into society.
- Some kinds of consumer behaviors are driven by unconscious motives.
Consumers often have difficulty articulating the exact reasons why they
like something or why they have purchased something. For this reason,
marketing researchers often make use of techniques (e.g., the depth
interview) that facilitate an understanding of unconscious motives.
- The superego is the third structure hypothesized by Freud.
It represents the traditional ideas and values of society. These
values are learned at childhood and are transmitted largely through
identification with parents. The superego serves as a conscience and
attempts to curb the passions that emanate from the id. The id is wild
and untamed. It represents primal, animal instincts. The superego attempts
to exert a civilizing force. At the same time, the superego comes into
conflict with the ego. The superego attempts to compel the ego to pursue
goals that match the morality that is dictated by society and culture.
- The superego is like a filter or conscience. Humans do not act on
every impulse. People do not turn every thought into an action. Some
thoughts are suppressed. Some ideas people have do not lead to action
(such as purchase or consumption behavior). Freud's notion of the superego
is applied in modern marketing theories, such as the quick choice
model (see Exhibit 11.1). Under this model, consumers respond to
the constant flow of ideas (one of which is the father of another) by
making use of a mechanism like Freud's concept of the superego. That
is, the flow of ideas is filtered by a consumer's notion of right
Exhibit 11.1: Quick-Choice Model (50.0K)
- The main contribution of Freud's thought to motivational theory is
the following. Freud's simple framework provides a way to think about
the interplay between biological forces (represented by the id), societal
forces (the superego), and human consciousness (the ego). These three
forces are the foundations for explaining human motivations and needs
as they influence behavior.
Implications of Freud's Theory for Marketing
- From a marketing perspective, new product managers may try to create
brands that fulfill needs of the id, ego, or superego. Similarly,
advertising managers can use Freud's concepts to inspire creative
- Another way to tap into the unconscious mind is by exposing respondents
to specific images. For instance, a Freudian-trained psychotherapist
might make use of a Rorschach test-the so-called inkblot test. Marketing
researchers have adapted this technique and are quite interested in
studying consumers' reaction to visual images, again as an alternative
to gathering information in a strictly verbal fashion.
- Carl Jung agreed with Freud's core position about the importance of
unconscious motivations. If anything, Jung believed that the unconscious
mind was a stronger force in determining human action than did Freud.
To understand human motivation, he felt that it was necessary to delve
beneath the surface to understand vast unconscious forces at work.
Overview of Jung's Theory
Implications of Jung's Theory for Marketing
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
- Jung's approach is important for marketers because it provides a way
to explore myths, images, and symbols. In turn, myths and symbols are
the building blocks for creating marketing phenomena (such as advertisements
- According to Jung's theory, humans do share deep-seated, eternal similarities.
Since this is the case, Jung's theory provides a path for describing one
way that marketers' messages can be globalized. By selecting universal
symbols to enhance communication, marketers have an opportunity to use
similar promotional campaigns in many different cultures.
- Physiological-the biological needs for food and water and
- Safety and security-shelter, protection and security.
- Social-affection, friendship, and acceptance.
- Ego-prestige, success, accomplishment, self-esteem.
- Self-actualization-self-fulfillment and enriching experiences.
Exhibit 11.3: Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsThe lower level needs (starting with physiological, at the bottom
of Exhibit 11.3) are considered to dominate the higher level needs.
That is, consumers must satisfy lower-level needs before they begin
to pursue higher-order needs. The highest level need, according to Maslow,
is related to self-actualization. Consumers desire to live up to their
full potential. This need for self-actualization only becomes activated
if all four of the lower level needs have already been satisfied. Although Maslow's hierarchy provides a useful organization for thinking
about needs and motives, it is overly simplistic. The hierarchy ignores
the intensity of the needs. The avid consumption of luxuries in poor
transitional economies illustrates this over-simplification. In addition,
Maslow's ordering of needs may not be consistent across cultures. In
fact, research suggests that a somewhat different hierarchy applies
in the East.
Implications of Maslow's Theory for MarketingMurray's Theory of Motivation
- Henry Murray was a pioneer in shifting attention away from motives as
internal states or drives, to thinking about motives in terms of goal
striving. His research preceded Maslow's work by almost 20 years, but
in many ways was much more sophisticated. His work influenced and continues
to influence many students of motivation.
An Overview of Murray's Theory
- The three previous motivation researchers we have described set out
to summarize human motives in as simple a structure as possible. By contrast,
Murray set out to list an inventory of every possible need he could distinguish.
Just his basic list of major human needs includes 22 different ones.
- Murray believed that people differ in their priority ranking of these
needs. Modern interpretations of his list suggest that, depending on social
and cultural circumstances, some of these needs are never salient while
others assume great importance.
- Like Freud, Jung, and Maslow, Murray had a view of the self and motives
that derived from Western psychology, and his theory is culture-bound,
that is, it doesn't necessarily apply outside the society where
the theory was developed. However, because his inventory of motives
is so comprehensive it is more adaptable to different cultural traditions.
- One of the major criticisms of Murray's work is that it is just a lengthy
inventory of needs, and this makes it difficult and impractical for marketers
Implications of Murray's Theory for Marketing
A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Motivation
- Murray's detailed list of needs identifies several needs specially associated
with objects. He identified acquisitionneeds (to gain
possessionsand property), order needs (to put things
in order, achieve cleanliness, arrangements, organization, balance),
and retention needs (to retain possessionof things, to
hoard, to be frugal, economical and miserly) as among the most basic
human needs. Marketers often appeal to these needs for acquiring and retaining
- Acquisition may be a basic human need but major religions discourage
excess in acquisition and encourage restraint. Judeo-Christian, Buddhist,
Taoist, Hindu and Native American traditions all encourage restraint in
materialist desire. Nevertheless, we give examples throughout this book
from many different cultures about the desire to acquire, order and retain
possessions. Although the meaning and importance of possessions varies
substantially among different peoples both within a given culture and
between cultures, most people seem to need to acquire and retain certain
- Marketers are interested in the basic need for acquisition of possessions,
or the particular desire for a type of product, but they are also interested
in understanding and predicting why a particular consumer in a specific
social and/or cultural setting buys a special brand.
- Motivation varies with people's perceptions (chapter nine), self-concept
(chapter seven), and experiences and knowledge (chapter twelve). Even more
basic, motivation depends on people's biology, including and perhaps especially
their brains. It's not too difficult to understand how motivations derive
from basic physiological needs such as the needs for food, water, air, sex
and shelter, but the role of the brain in driving higher level needs is
- How the Brain, Mind, and Motivation Are Linked
How Motivation and Culture are LinkedFive Consumer Needs in Cultural Perspective
- The most recent research on how brains develop involves highly technical
details about anatomy and organic chemistry.
- One of the leading experts in the evolving debates about consciousness
and the mind is Nobel Prize winner Gerald Edelman. Edelman's theory draws
very directly from Darwin and, in fact, he refers to his theory as neutral
Darwinism. He argues that each individual brain, even before birth,
uses a process that resembles natural selection to develop during its
own lifetime. This means that every person's individual mind is shaped
by Darwinian rules of selection to provide a structure (networks of connections
between neurons) that will enable that person to cope with the world.
Genetics predisposes certain connections, for example, those related to
reaching for and grasping objects (which most babies seem to do instinctively).
However, the actual pattern of connections in a brain is unpredictable.
Those connections that prove most helpful in the outside world become
stronger. Those that prove unhelpful weaken and disappear. This and other
emerging theories have profound implications for the study of motivation.
- These theories lead us to a central conclusion-consumers are uniquely
shaped by cultural and social settings and they are constantly adapting
based on what works and what doesn't.
- Motivations are likely to be both more unique to an individual and more
variable across social and cultural environments than we previously thought.
Moreover, motivations are more likely to change as the world around us
changes. Consumers will adapt their motivations and actions to fit with
what works in that new environment.
- If you leaf through just about any U.S. or Western European magazine,
you will see high proportions of ads are targeted toward one of these
five consumer needs. Two of these needs (the need for power and uniqueness)
are likely to be much higher in independent than interdependent cultures.
Three of these needs (the needs for achievement, affiliation and self-esteem)
are likely to be important in both, but have very different meanings and
actions associated with them.
The Achievement Motive
- One of the most studied and talked about motivations is probably the
need for achievement. The achievement need is defined as emotion
experienced in connection with evaluated performance.
- Whereas the individually-oriented achievement motive implies striving
for it's own sake, the socially oriented achievement motive has the goal
of meeting expectations of significant others. Several studies have distinguished
between these two types of achievement motivation, showing that the motive
to achieve goals can be for social and collective reasons.
The Power Motive
The Uniqueness/Novelty Motive
- Blending in and not standing out (e.g., integration or affiliation)
is very important in interdepednent-self cultures. Individuals in independent
self-cultures express the desire to be independent and unique (e.g., differentiation
- The uniqueness need, that is, the need toperceive oneself
as different from others, has been called the "pursuit of difference."
Many western cultures and Americans in particular put a premium on standing
out and being unique. Americans struggle to enhance self-esteem motives.
Individuals with an independent view of the self seek to maintain self-esteem
by distinguishing and differentiating themselves from others.
- In much of the modern world, the majority of products are mass marketed.
In this climate, many people feel that it is difficult to create and project
uniqueness. Just as the mass market exerts strong pressure to conform,
so too the modern workplace exerts strong pressure to conform.
- One way consumers can differentiate themselves is through attitudes
and beliefs. Another way a person can be different is through uniqueness
attributes, for example, physical qualities, information or experiences.For
example, consumers with a high need for uniqueness are especially attracted
to scarce products. These consumers search for new and special products
to maintain a sense of specialness relative to others.
- Computer technology can be used to create a unique image or to express
individuality. Communicating in cyberspace can provide thrills, excitement
and a feeling of uniqueness. Consumers' interactions on the Web can be
exciting to the senses. In some instances, buyers on web auction sites
are willing to pay more for products they purchase over the Internet because
of the spectacle and excitement provided by the purchase environment.
The Affiliation Motive
- One of people's most basic social behaviors is our urge for contact.
Our ancestors evolved in small, cohesive groups. The universality of the
need to belong is revealed by the use of ostracism as a punishment in
many societies. Brain research reveals that feelings of belonging are
- The need for affiliation is defined as the need to be with
We might expect that the need for affiliation would be higher in interdependent
than independent cultures. Surprisingly studies have not found this. What
we have discovered is that the meaning of affiliation and the behaviors
that accompany affiliation do differ.
- One recent trend in industrialized society is that consumers felt more
and more detached as the twentieth century unfolded. Large institutions
and mass media have the effect of insulating and detaching consumers from
their fellows. As a result, consumers sometimes experience a strong motivation
to reconnect and associate with groups of kindred spirits. Many consumers
are eager to find a way to overcome feelings of detachment, depersonalization,
and isolation. Advertisers often try to position products and services
as symbols of affiliation or as means that will enable consumers to achieve
connection with people.
The Self-Esteem Motive
Needs Related to the Shopping Process
- Another motive that has received a lot of attention is the need tomaintain
a positive view of the self, or the self-esteem, as discussed
in Chapter 7. Studies of Americans show that even at a very early age
they take credit for successes, explain away failures, and see themselves
as better than most others in most ways. This is referred to as a
- The self-esteem goal is seen as fundamental in Western cultures. In
Japan, expressing your inner self is not valued. What is important is
to control the expression of your inner self in order to fit in with others
and maintain harmony. Research has demonstrated that Japanese put less
emphasis on consistency between feelings and actions than Americans. In
fact, self-esteem among those with interdependent selves may heavily depend
on self-control and self-restraint that enable belonging and fitting in.
- In this section, we discuss and illustrate two consumer needs related
to the shopping process including deal proneness and self-sacrifice. This
is not intended to comprise a comprehensive list of shopping motives, but
only to suggest how shopping environments can relate to consumer needs.
- Deal Proneness: Winning at the game of Shopping
Shopping as Self-Sacrifice
- For some consumers, shopping is like a contest or game. So, a consumer
may shop for hours and make many comparisons so as to make just the right
purchase. This purchase may be evaluated in terms of the amount of money
saved. Or, in other instances, time may be the objective function. In
this sense, the deals that marketers offer can be viewed as a key motivator
- Marketers offer deals to consumers for many reasons. Examples of deals
include everything from coupons, to rebates, to free samples. From one
perspective, a deal (such as a special coupon) serves to draw attention
to the brand. Such a deal may stimulate or trigger purchase behavior.
- Deal proneness can be viewed as a kind of consumer need. When
combined with other needs, it has the potential to explain the "why"
of consumer behavior. Consumers' responses to deals can also be viewed
as a personality variable For instance, we may say that some consumers
are particularly deal prone. These consumers seek out deals for a wide
variety of reasons, including saving money, having fun, or being efficient
- Consumers often haggle over price. Pricehaggling involves
give and take by buyer and seller in order to establish a price acceptable
to both. The prevalence of price haggling varies considerably between
cultures. Many economies operate on a barter system and rely heavily on
haggling price. When consumers price haggle we might assume, that they
are motivated to obtain a better dollar value for their purchase's that
is, economic motives.
- One U.S. based study used an analysis of depth interviews to illustrate
consumers can fulfill three primary needs including achievement, affiliation,
and dominance, by haggling over price.
- Deal proneness and price haggling, like other needs, are shaped by the
shopping culture or environment the consumer experiences. Consumers in
transitional economies may be particularly motivated by sales because
of the previous lack of goods and lack of price differentiation among
- Often we interpret shopping as a pleasure or a self-gift. People report
that when they are feeling low, or want to reward themselves, they go
shopping. A perspective that may be the source or rich insights for marketers
interprets shopping as self-sacrifice. The findings are based on
ethnography of lower and lower middle class women in the United Kingdom,
although an ethnographic study of lower and lower middle Chicago women
reports similar findings.
- Daniel Miller, an anthropologist, argues that women shop out of devotional
love for their families. Their shopping is an investment in their families
and relationships with family members. Purchases are rationalized not
in terms of what was spent, but in terms of savings and thrift. These
savings and thrift generated through shopping then constitute funds that
can be given to dependents and descendants. In this perspective provisioning
of the family through shopping is an important way of constituting and
preserving the family. The idea that women can use purchases to show their
family they love them is common in many U.S. magazines. If shopping is
viewed as provisioning the family rather than a pleasurable, self-indulgent
activity, then marketers would use different appeals to encourage shopping
and purchase of their products.
- Motives need to be understood in terms of the effort that consumers are
willing to commit. When motivation to achieve a goal is high, consumers
are likely to invest substantial effort. Pursuing goals, the motivated consumer
may feel involved-interest, excitement, anxiety, passion, engagement, and
Marketing Implications of Different Levels of Involvement
- Types and Characteristics of Consumer Involvement
- High involvement and low involvement affect attention, information search,
purchase, and consumption satisfaction differently. Thus, the marketing
strategies used vary with the level of involvement, and marketers use
involvement to identify segments in the market.
- Because involvement affects decision-making and attitudes we will revisit
the marketing implications of involvement when we discuss these topics
in detail in chapter 13.
High Involvement Purchase and Consumption
- When consumers are highly involved with a purchase, they are willing
to expend greater levels of shopping effort. In other words, the higher
the level of involvement, the greater the amount of time and money that
consumers are willing to spend and the greater number of stores that they
- With high involvement, attention is increased and more importance
is attached to the stimulus object. Memory is enhanced. The purchase process
is more complex for highly involved consumers, and they are more motivated
to make a careful purchase decision. They search extensively for relevant
information about products and/or brands that are personally relevant.
High-involvement consumers have strongly held beliefs about brands and
perceive great differences between brands in a product class. They often
have a favorite or preferred brand and are brand loyal.
- Purchase involvement is positively related to search activities. That
is, consumers with high-involvement place greater importance on major
information sources and engage in an active search process and they are
heavy users of newspaper and advertising. However, they are more likely
to generate negative cognitive responses to product-related messages.
- Highly involved consumers find shopping more interesting and enjoyable.
Involved consumers like to get the best value for their money and are
much more concerned with attributes that assure value in purchasing, such
as favorable return policies.
- Highly involved consumers often show more satisfaction with products.
Since high involvement motivates consumers to spend time and effort to
avoid postpurchase dissatisfaction, these consumers generally report higher
satisfaction and less negative disconfirmation with the product they purchase.
However, there is some question about how satisfaction levels change over
- As in many areas of consumer behavior, we don't know much about how
involvement levels ebb and flow over time and how the relationship between
involvement and other variables (such as satisfaction) may vary over time.
Low-Involvement Purchase and Consumption
- It is important to keep in mind that, in many purchase situations, the
consumer couldn't care less; that is, there is low involvement.
For paper towels, consumers may make the purchase, switch brands, and
- Low-involvement consumers are not active information seekers. Because
the decision is of little importance, such consumers are not active information
processors. They tend to make little comparison among brands or among
product attributes. Often, low-involvement consumers are indifferent among
a group of brands. They don't have special preferences for a particular
brand, and brand loyalty is not very strong. The purchase decision may
result from simple recognition of the product on the shelf. Since low-involvement
purchasers are not paying much attention, they may get easily confused,
or they may make mistakes. In many instances, however, the low-involvement
purchaser may not really care too much about the mistakes.
- Consumption experiences may also not involve much arousal or involvement.
Low Involvement Marketing Strategies
- Marketers of a product that evokes low involvement may consider strategies
that will increase consumers' involvement with a product or brand over
a short period or for longer periods.
- Another way to raise involvement levels is to adapt the advertising
medium to the product category.
- Marketers can raise the involvement level of the situation by promoting
their product in a high involvement medium (e.g., the Web) instead of
a low involvement medium (e.g., radio). Marketers must tailor the complexity
of their message to suit the inherent involvement level of their product
- On the one hand, brand managers of low-involvement products may not
be thrilled with the idea that consumers don't really care about their
product. But, on the other hand, consumers in a low-involvement situation
are willing to try unfamiliar brands without a full search for information
and without forming a strong preference first. Complete evaluation of
the brand comes after the brand has been purchased and used. Thus, marketers
can appeal to low-involvement consumers through extensive distribution
networks or through clever in-store displays.
Involvement as a Segmentation Variable
- Involvement can be a useful segmentation variable. For instance, consumers
can be segmented into the following four groups based around their involvement
with a product category and with particular brands:
- Brand loyalists--those who are highly involved both with the
product category and with particular brands.
- Information seekers--those who are highly involved with a product
category but do not have a preferred brand.
- Routine brand buyers--those who are not highly involved with
the product category but are involved with a particular brand in that
- Brand switchers--those who are not involved with the product
category or with particular brands.
- Motivational research can provide insights into consumer behavior and
can reveal unsuspected motivations concerning product and brand usage.
- It can be used to develop new ideas for promotional campaigns, and also
to explore consumer reaction to new product ideas. There are many different
motivational research techniques, some of which were discussed in Chapter
3. The means-ends chain and laddering provide a basic way of moving from
product attributes to underlying motives; the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation
Technique (ZMET) combines consumer images and stories to help reseravhers
- The Means-Ends Chain and Laddering
The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique
- A chief goal of the marketing department within an organization is to
understand the underlying consumer motivations for purchasing and then
to communicate these consumer motivations to the rest of the organization.
- The means-ends chain provides a way to dig beneath the surface
and to discover layers of consumer meaning. The name is derived from the
assumption that a brand is a consumer's means of achieving a
desired end or goal. Thus, the means-end chain suggests a clear method
for discovering a consumer's pattern of motivations.
- Instructions for administering a means-ends chain are shown in Good
Practice 11.1. Sample outputs from the measurement process are shown in
Consumer Chronicles 11.6, where the responses from one consumer, Karen,
Good Practice 11.1: Administering Means-Ends Chains (50.0K)
Consumer Chronicles 11.6: Sample Means-Ends Chain Output for a Candy Bar (50.0K)
- At the first step, the respondent narrows down the list of important
factors, or benefits, to the two that are seen as most important.
- At the second step of measurement, the respondent is asked to say whythose
two particular benefits are important. This is the start of the laddering
process. The interviewer keeps asking Why? until the informant responds
with a value (e.g., achievement, affiliation) or until the informant becomes
so fatigued and can no longer answer. This succession of "why" questions
is referred to as the laddering process.
- Presumably, the majority of consumer means-ends chains will culminate
with a basic motive or value.
- Note that the laddering technique requires an in-depth interview that
is potentially time consuming and possibly frustrating for the respondent
(e.g., being continually confronted with "why" questions). Thus, the means-end
chain method is usually applied to small samples. It is not particularly
feasible for large-scale applications.
- With the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique, or ZMET, researchers
use pictures and nonvisual images gathered and/or generated by consumers
to elicit and probe the metaphors that represent consumers' thoughts and
feelings about a topic. The use of one form of expression to describe
or representfeelings about another is called a metaphor.
- By having people select their own images, the ZMET process gives participants
control of the research stimuli and a sense of involvement with the topic.
Participants are able to represent their thoughts and feelings more fully
and personally than possible when responding to stimuli created and presented
by the researcher.
- ZMET is especially effective at helping consumers uncover hidden or
tacit knowledge-understanding they didn't know they had. ZMET has been
used to help many companies develop promotional campaigns or identify
new product ideas.
- Each ZMET interview is a one-to-one discussion, approximately two hours
long. The ZMET interview employs several steps to identify consumers'
key thoughts and feelings. The technique is based, in part, on the fact
that most human communication is nonverbal and that much of nonverbal
communication is visual. Each step in ZMET provides a different window
for identifying and understanding of consumers' thoughts and feelings.
The use of multiple steps also increases the likelihood of uncovering
an important idea that might be missed by more narrowly focused techniques.
At the same time, each step provides validation of ideas from other steps.
ZMET capitalizes on consumers' ideas about stories and movies to get at
- ZMET offers a way to tap into the unconscious mind. It provides a way
to understand consumer motivations that are not necessarily tied to verbal
expressions. One advantage of ZMET is that it can provide unique input
to advertising copywriters. Much of marketing research is summarized by
statistics or by a written report. ZMET provides consumer-based images
that can become part of the visual portion of an ad campaign.