Laddering (sometimes referred to as a benefit chain) is a market research technique for discovering the associations consumers have between specific product attributes and more general end states or consequences.
According to the Means End Chain Theory, there is a hierarchy of consumer perceptions and product knowledge that ranges from attributes (A) to consumption consequences (C) to personal values (V), as follows:
- attributes — At the top level of this hierarchy, attributes are most recognizable by individuals. Individuals recognize the attributes of a product or system easily. For example, “I like this car, because it is a convertible.”
- consequences — In turn, the attributes have consequences for the individual. For example, the convertible makes its driver feel young and free. Each attribute may have one or more consequences for any given individual.
- core values — Finally, each consequence is linked to a core value of the person’s life. For example, the sense of youth makes that driver feel attractive.
- ^ American Marketing Association, AMA Dictionary.
- ^ Hawley, Michael. Laddering: A Research Interview Technique for Uncovering Core Values, UXmatters. July 6, 2009.