Aging Well

+ Trends & Research

Values-based research is a new, more powerful approach to understanding consumer's purchase motivations because values are not so transitory as the opinions reported in most surveys or moderated focus groups: they are part of the deep structure, or unstated premises, of peoples' actions, and are slow to change.

Values are combined with lifestyles and demographics, to define subcultures: distinct ways of life that bear on product attitudes and use. Values are not individualistic and held independently of other people, quite the contrary. Values are socially reinforced in families, friendship networks, at work, at church and at play. Furthermore, people are very uncomfortable when their values are inconsistent with their lives.

There are a number of distinct values-driven subcultures in North America. Their lines of cleavage often define how people get and spend money, as well as, where they stand on social issues. So this gives an excellent basis for consumer typologies. It also aids studies of the larger themes of change in culture, which often lead to new media approaches and to new themes in advertising, or even to new kinds of advertising.

The concept of leverage is not usually found in this area, for leverage means getting out much more effect than the effort you have put in. Leverage means using real social groupings as part of the market segmentation, not artificial market segments based on categories that will change from survey to survey. People often use the products and services they buy, and the lifestyle that supports, to create status markers. Hence subcultures tend to be status groups as well as lifestyle and values groups. Therefore, analysis based on values gives interpretative leverage that makes richer and much more meaningful stories than the usual shallow numbers of most market research.

Knowing values gives a set of handles for finding what is important in the lives of consumers, and how those interests relate to particular products, for developing programs and strategies to speak to those interests, and for developing guidelines to coordinate the work of those who must do market positioning and campaigns: marketing, sales, media, public relations and advertising people.