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.[1]

Means End Chain Theory


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.[2]


  1. ^ American Marketing Association, AMA Dictionary.
  2. ^ Hawley, Michael. Laddering: A Research Interview Technique for Uncovering Core Values, UXmatters. July 6, 2009.

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