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

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

IV
THE MEANS-END APPOACH TO DEVELOPING
MARKETING STRATEGY

SECTION OVERVIEW

The means-end approach can help marketing managers understand how and why consumers make purchase decisions and then use this understanding of customer motivations to guide their thinking about marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy should specify how a particular group of consumers should perceive the personal relevance of a product or brand. It is useful to specify a marketing strategy as a means-end chain that identifies the salient product attributes, consequences (benefits), and values to be emphasized, and also identifies how these elements are linked together. Each means-end chain defines a particular form of customer-product relationship or a particular sense of personal relevance for the target consumer. Selecting an appropriate means-end basis for the consumer-brand relationship is the essence of a marketing strategy.

The means-end approach to developing marketing strategy usually begins by understanding how current customers see the personal relevance of a product category. This would usually entail conducting laddering interviews that would produce a set of means-end chains obtained from a group of customers. Then the researcher would combine the various means-end chains and portray the resulting structure as a map. Once called a Hierarchical Value Map (HVM), today researchers are more likely to use the term Consumer Decision Map (CDM). The CDM portrays the

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