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Primary and Secondary Motives
The satisfaction of motives, not just needs, is a critical consideration in a competitive climate.
Motives are auxiliary to the basic needs of the consumer. Catering to them can elevate the perceived value of satisfying a need. For example, someone may have a need for transportation, but the motives that coincide with satisfying this need will also influence whether a plane, train, bus, boat or car offer the better solution (remember substitute products/services from earlier?). If the motive is to travel across the country as quickly as possible, then perhaps a plane is the best choice. If the preference is to do it as economically as possible, perhaps another choice will better suit the purpose.
Even if customers aren’t completely aware of it, they often have a tendency to think in terms of primary and secondary motives. They almost always will insist on having their primary motives satisfied. Secondary motives get treated differently – they’re more like desires, preferences, indulgences, impulse, or even wishful or wistful thinking.
Customers may be willing to forgo one or more secondary motives, but they’ll probably do some comparison shopping before they commit to making concessions. This is where the notion of added-value might be used to fine-tune the levers of the value formula. As long as the perceived benefits continue to outweigh the cost, it stands a good chance of putting the product/service in a more favorable light.
At the same time, it’s important to be wary of clouding the value of the value proposition by making it too complex, cluttered or confusing with added-value. Too many choices, or trying too hard, can do more harm than good. Think of each separate added-value item as resting somewhere on a continuum between significant and nominal. Draw a boundary for discarding options that clearly fail to provide enough oomph to make it worthwhile. Then see if you can pare down the list even more. What remains should basically be “a no-brainer” for the customer. Where possible, include the alternative to opt out from an added-value offer, particularly if it affects the cost to the customer.
Striving to leverage this deeper form of value creation largely depends on getting to know the target audience as well as possible. Actively attempting to acquire a greater understanding of their personal characteristics, attitudes, motives, preferences, lifestyles, behaviors and needs — regardless of whether it’s done face-to-face or online — is highly recommended. These insights can provide key clues for effectively honing the value proposition to make it truly resonate with them – in both a material form and the marketing communications.
For example, a financially able customer that readily embraces the psychological and social attributes of prestige — enough to make them a primary motive — is apt to purchase a luxury item no matter the price.
But if a customer holds functionality as the primary motive, with prestige as secondary, then a perceived cost margin difference comes into play. As soon as the cost exceeds the benefits, the customer is likely to turn to an alternative solution.
Let’s try another example, only this time let’s temporarily put aside the role of price by using a comparably priced product like a mid-sized car. In this instance, the social, functional and psychological motives may be weighted differently depending on what the customer values. A younger customer may want a car that will be seen as more attractive or sporty, or perhaps make her feel more attractive or sporty. A family-oriented customer, on the other hand, might concentrate on choosing a car with a better record for safety, durability or reliability.
Let’s briefly look at one more example involving the world hotels industry – specifically, their solution to a recently identified opportunity for single women guests.
With their growing independence, women now travel alone more often than in the past for both business (43% of business travelers are women) and pleasure. Though security has always been a concern among those who travel by themselves, the industry hadn’t until recently picked up on it as a means for differentiating their product with added value. Speculation might suggest this was due in part to this group’s relatively small presence in prior years.
But as this pool of potential customers expanded into the size of a legitimate market segment, the most adept of the luxury hotels came to appreciate that feeling safe and secure was among their primary motives when shopping for a place to stay. In response, they adopted state of the art security systems for the safety of these women guests. Their security measures include:
- Women only floors
- Programmed key cards
- Screens showing who is outside the room
- Panic buttons at different points in the room
- Hotel Taxis to commute
[Source: “World Hotels Customer Retention Strategies,” http://allwondersworldhotels.blogspot.com/2008/06/world-hotels-customer-retention.html]
As you can see from these examples, the satisfaction of motives, not just needs, is often at the heart of delivering real perceived value. Insofar as these kinds of perceptual differences occur with all sorts of products and services, it follows that no single offering can be expected to be everything to everyone. This goes a long way toward explaining the advent of product lines, product mixes and market segmentation techniques as a means for serving dissimilar motives and needs.
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