Whenever a potential customer swings by your website, they make a determination as to whether your product or service is worth the money you're charging for it. If they determine it is, they buy it from you. If they determine it isn't, they don't. That's all pretty straightforward, but how do they actually make this determination?
Is it just that they think what you're selling is cool? It is because they need it? Is it because it'll look nice in their house?
The Harvard Business Review set out to answer these questions using thoroughly researched surveys of over 10,000 people. What they discovered is that consumers (i.e., all of us) consider 30 elements of value to determine what we purchase. They sorted and ranked these 30 elements into four categories of increasing significance: Functional, Emotional, Life Changing, and Social Impact.
What are these 30 Elements of Value we're all subconsciously connecting with the things we buy?
- Saves Time
- Makes Money
- Reduces Risk
- Reduces Effort
- Avoids Hassles
- Reduces Cost
- Sensory Appeal
- Reduces Anxiety
- Rewards Me
- Design / Aesthetic
- Badge Value
- Therapeutic Value
- Fun / Entertainment
- Provides Access
- Provides Hope
How does a product or service provide Self Actualization? Or Badge Value? Let's use a product from a successful small business to get a better understanding of what these elements of value mean.
Kuju makes ready-to-brew drip coffee that allows their customers to whip up high quality coffee no matter where they are: be that at home or on top of a mountain. Based on just a brief look at their site we can see that their product arguably meets these elements of value:
It Saves Time, it Simplifies, it Reduces Effort, and it provides Quality and Sensory Appeal.
Look at how easy Kuju Coffee's three-step process looks. No more relying on instant coffee or lugging a Keurig and a diesel generator to the lake just so you can make a nice cup.
Kuju Coffee Rewards Me, has nice Design / Aesthetics, promotes Fun / Entertainment, and even provides Wellness.
How does a coffee company associate itself with so many emotionally focused elements? Discussions of the potential health benefits of caffeine aside (this article wouldn't be written without it), everything about their brand promotes the notion that you'll be outside exploring nature with their coffee. That's less about the product and more about the marketing, but measuring value is as much about perception as it is anything else. Using the Elements of Value as a guide can help you pinpoint areas where you can improve on your marketing and impact the perception of your own products. Don't just sell coffee. Sell coffee that helps people improve their lives.
Kuju Coffee provides Self-Actualization and Motivation.
Nothing gets you moving like coffee and a lot of people find spending more time out in the wild greatly improves their lives.
So What?That's nice that Kuju's product meets a lot of these values, but how does that help you? A product is what it is, you can't easily increase its value can you?
While it may be true that you can't necessarily up and change your products, you absolutely can make them more valuable to customers. Look at Kuju. Their product is simple. It's coffee. There are lots of coffee brands in the world and everyone drinks it for the exact same reason—to give themselves a burst of energy. Any and all coffee is going to match up with some of these values no matter what, like Sensory Appeal and Motivation.
Kuju takes this base product, though, and makes it more valuable to their customers. Their packaging and photography look great (Quality and Design / Aesthetics), they've made everything simple (Saves Time, Simplifies, Reduces Effort), and they've associated their company with nature (Fun / Entertainment, Wellness, Self-Actualization).
What lessons can you learn from Kuju's example? Look at your own business and products. Then follow these three steps:
- Make a list of the elements of value that your products match. Write down the reasons you feel they do.
- Examine your competitors and do the same thing. Do you match more than they do? Less? Where are some gaps in how they're positioning their products that you can fill? Look back to Kuju. Coffee is mostly associated with work, whether it's waking yourself up for a new day of making spreadsheets or working freelance from a cafe. Kuju Coffee found a gap and have filled it beautifully by connecting their product to being out in nature.
- List out how many other elements your product could match with some simple changes. You don't need to make direct alterations to your product to pull this off. How could you improve (or develop) your brand persona to match more elements of value? What about improving the design of your home page or refreshing the look of your entire site? Or writing better copy to associate your product with loftier themes?
Simple changes to how you present your products and talk about your business can give you several more elements of value in the eyes of your potential customers. The more of these elements your products or services address, the more likely it is a customer will want to spend their money with you. And that is always a good thing.