Understanding Consumer Decision Making: The Means-End Approach to Marketing and Advertising Strategy

By Thomas J. Reynolds; Jerry C. Olson | Go to book overview

namely, the primary output being (structurally) quantitative in nature in the form of a hierarchical value map (HVM). In this vein, the content analysis of ladder elements is positioned as an important step in this “crossing over” from the qualitative to quantitative.

Detailed attention is paid to the construction of the HVM from the implication matrix, which represents the number of direct and indirect linkages between the qualitative concepts elicited during the laddering process. Five types of relations among elements are discussed, and their respective implications for constructing a HVM are illustrated.

Having the HVM to work with, the next step in transforming the output of laddering into useful information for marketing decision-making is to determine the dominant perceptual orientations. That is, all potential pathways (connections among elements) must be examined to determine their relative strength of association. Two primary considerations are specified with examples, namely, the number of relations among elements within the chain and the extent to which all elements are interconnected.

Lastly, the issue of applications is discussed referencing the key research problems of perceptual segmentation, determining the importance weights of the various components of the ladders, and the development and subsequent assessment of advertising from this value perspective. All of the application areas have in common that they depend on laddering's ability to draw out from the respondent the true basis for any meaningful connection they have to the product class.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to express our appreciation to Monique Vrinds and Gregory Bunker of the Institute for Consumer Research for both their technical and practical illustrations of the laddering process.


REFERENCES

Abelson, R. (1981). The psychological status of the script concept. American Psychologist, 36, 715–729.

Barker, R. G. (1968). Ecological psychology: Concepts and methods for studying the environment of human behavior. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Davis, M. S. (1971). That's interesting: Toward a phenomenology of sociology and a sociology or phenomenology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1, 309–314.

Durgee, J. F. (1985). Depth-interview techniques for creative advertising. Journal of Advertising Research, 25, 6, 29–37.

Gutman, J. (1982). A means-end chain model based on consumer categorization processes. Journal of Marketing, 46, 2, 60–72.

Gutman, J. (1984). Analyzing consumer orientations toward beverages through means-end chain analysis. Psychology and Marketing, 1, 3/4, 23–43.

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