Is choosing a product or a service complicated or straightforward? What makes us buy a product or service? Is it the price, our need for it, or its perceived value?
Does brand loyalty play a role?
Already the questions are piling up, which probably means a purchasing decision is not as simple as saying, ‘I want’.
We love to gather product knowledge. We read about its features, function, profile, claim to fame, and manufacturer. We do this with several products of the same type. Then we distribute all the information into silos for each product, sit back, and mull. The pundits call this an ‘index strategy’.
You may call it making a choice.
Essentially, both lead to a pecking order of preference.
John Hauser, the Kirin Professor of Marketing at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has an interesting take on this. He says the index strategy brings a buyer close to a decision and at a lower cost. In other words, when you line up all the ducks, big and small, it’s easier to choose the duck that appeals to you the most, and this efficiency in decision-making saves time.
However, it does not mean you cannot change your mind. You can rearrange the rankings as you wish.
What does a consumer consider when making a buying decision? Price? Yes. Warranties? Yes. Service levels? Yes. But there is more.
Marketers have generally focused on getting the price aspect right. That is the easy part because a pricing strategy usually involves managing a small set of numbers, and pricing analytics and tactics have evolved considerably. The tricky bit is determining what consumers value, and price and value are eternally locked in a bind.
The discrete choice analysis technique simulates consumer demand for different combinations of product features, pricing, and other factors. There are also other equally powerful and helpful research techniques. Still, they are designed to test consumers’ reactions to preconceived notions of value, which are concepts managers use to arrive at a verdict. But, to develop new ideas, you must anticipate what else consumers might find valuable.
A company with the right insights will encourage consumers to try new brands, build customer loyalty, and produce sustained revenue growth. Also, it will help the company to develop new ways to deliver value through its products and services. Even though an individual’s opinion of a product’s value or benefit is shaped by their perspective, universal building blocks of value exist, creating opportunities for businesses to gain a competitive edge in current or new markets.
The ‘four-tiered B2C content model’ is a proprietary product of Content Charisma. It is designed to open people’s minds and hearts and get them on board to make a meaningful and measurable difference to the company’s bottom line.
This article will discuss the following:
What is a four-tiered B2C content model?
This ‘elements of value’ architecture provide insights into people as consumers and their motivations to purchase and use products and services.
To help B2C companies (in our target niche of industries) better understand consumer priorities, we followed in the footsteps of Bain & Company, a Boston-based management consulting firm. We examined scores of qualitative and quantitative customer studies for our clients and analyzed what their consumers value most. In our studies, we employed their interviewing technique called laddering, a well-known technique that probes consumers’ stated preferences to determine which elements of value drive them.
A company must explore what underlies a consumer’s statement about a specific product or service’s attribute. Why is it important to them? For instance, when a patient states her hospital is ‘affordable and convenient’, its value derives from a combination of functional elements such as saving time (online tools schedule appointments instantly), reducing cost (comparatively low physicians’ visitation charges or no charges for consultations), avoiding hassles (short or no wait times at the doctor’s offices, hospital waiting rooms, etc.), simplifying procedures (clear and accurate information for services) and informing (provide helpful information about diagnoses and conditions).
When the owner of a Rolls Royce talks about the brand’s strength, prestige, and refinement, the underlying life-changing element is affiliation/belonging, arising from the pride of owning a car that the elites have always possessed. Therefore, every value is rooted in a deep-seated emotion.
There are 30 “elements of value “, and they fall into four categories:
- Social Impact
Some of these elements are more inwardly focused, like addressing consumers’ needs. For example, the social impact element of self-transcendence is the foundation of Johnson & Johnson’s sustainable baby care products. The feeling of contributing to saving this world for themselves and their descendants is a value that matters to Johnson & Johnson’s consumers.
Other elements are outwardly focused, helping consumers interact with or navigate the external world. For example, the functional element of value called ‘organizes’ is central to the manufacturers of soaps, detergents, household chemicals, and paints because they help consumers deal with complexities in their external world and organize their lives.
Once you have integrated your consumer’s preferred values with your value proposition, you must develop a four-tiered content strategy addressing the four levels of the value: Functional, Emotional, Life-changing, and Social Impact. It will help you create content that resonates with your target audience and grows your business in leaps and bounds.
In today’s highly commoditized market, consumers look for elements of value that address not only their functional needs but also their other needs, viz. emotional, life-changing, and social impact.
B2C marketers can avoid the commodity trap by understanding consumers’ range of considerations and tailoring their value proposition to suit what consumers prize the most; then, they must build a narrative that thoughtfully addresses consumers’ arc of concerns.
This narrative must flow on every content platform: website, blogs, emails, case studies, newsletter, ad copy, etc. When companies understand customers and communicate with them to align with their ‘sense of value’, they become the brand of choice. People’s ‘sense of value’ derives from a combination of elements.
Through surveys and customer studies, we have identified 30 fundamental ‘elements of value’ in the B2C space. Please refer to the article Learning ‘elements of value’ and how it impacts B2C Marketing and its Content, to learn more about the 30 fundamental ‘elements of value’ in the B2C space.
The four-tiered B2C content model addresses the four categories of values consumers seek:
Tier 1 content addresses the functional elements of values such as Quality, Saves time, Simplifies, Makes money, Reduces risk, Organizes, Integrates, Connects, Reduces effort, Avoids hassles, Reduces cost, Variety, Sensory appeal, and Informs.
Tier 2 content address the emotional elements of value. It includes Reduces Anxiety, Rewards Me, Nostalgia, Design/aesthetics, Badge Value, Wellness, Therapeutic value, Fun/entertainment, Attractiveness, and Provides Access.
Tier 3 content addresses the life-changing elements of value. It includes Provides Hope, Self-actualization, Motivation, Heirloom, and Affiliation/belonging.
Tier 4 content addresses social impact elements of value, i.e., Self-transcendence.
Companies do not integrate all elements from all levels in their value proposition, but most include features from each tier.
The work of a content strategist is to build a roadmap of intent and map content (from the four tiers) to tell a story for a buyer persona or a group of personas.
It is challenging to determine what consumers value due to its psychological complexity. But some universal building blocks of value create attractive opportunities for B2C businesses in existing and new markets. When used in the right combination, these elements create magic. Whatever the nature of the marketing initiative – acquisition, retention, or expansion – a four-tiered content strategy built on these values helps craft relevant content for consumers, increasing sales and producing sustained revenue growth.
Why must B2C companies urgently adopt a four-tiered B2C content model?
B2C companies meet their potential customers online and typically do not have a sales team. Therefore, their marketing teams generate enormous volumes of content for their consumers. But most of them fail to drive engagement and motivate action. The reasons are i) a lack of analytical horsepower and precision to identify consumers’ intentions, interests, unmet needs, and fears, ii) a lack of a solid content strategy and the reluctance to change, and iii) the absence of a content team with the capabilities to implement the change effectively.
In B2C, you capture one individual’s attention and then give them the necessary supporting information. A four-tiered B2C content model helps to draw them in, quickly provide the information they’re looking for, and get them across the finish line to complete their order.
B2C marketing is mainly about storytelling. Take, for example, Lexus and their holiday ads of gifting cars for Christmas, Mercedes as a symbol of luxury and success and all the stories they tell in quality, and Disney stories on family vacations. A four-tiered B2C content model fills the content gaps and maps a story to a buyer persona.
Two of the top three challenges B2C marketers face are 1) creating content that appeals to different target audiences (according to 57 percent of them) and 2) differentiating their products/services from the competition (according to 40 percent of them).
A four-tiered B2C content model is intrinsically built on the foundation of differentiation, and it also helps create content that appeals to different target audiences.
B2C companies invest in content to drive business. But creating digital experiences that satisfy self-reliant customers is challenging. A four-tiered B2C content model will help companies ramp up sales and bring unprecedented returns on Investment (ROI).
The four-tiered B2C content model is a shiny, smart weapon in the B2C marketing arsenal. It is a full-proof multitalented content model: it mobilizes product or service potential, speeds up an organization’s growth, and increases profit.
Ignore it at your peril.
What is needed to build a four-tiered B2C content model?
You need a strategic content team. It must include experienced marketing strategists, buyer-persona experts, data analysts, researchers, compelling storytellers, editors, and search engine optimization experts who work together to create magic.
Here is how you can build and prosper:
Step 1: Reaffirm your value proposition. Most B2C companies are usually unaware of all product or service ‘elements of value’. Make it a point to conduct surveys and interviews with existing customers to analyze their responses to understand what they value most. Use the laddering technique to strengthen your value proposition when asking questions and assessing the answers.
Do not accept customers’ statements on products or services at face value. Get to the core of what they are saying. It is critical to explore what underlies a consumer’s statement about an attribute of a specific product or service necessary to them and not just accept it on its face.
For instance, when a patient states her hospital is ‘affordable and convenient’, its value derives from a combination of functional elements such as saving time, reducing cost, preventing hassles, simplifying procedures, and informing.
When the owner of a Rolls Royce talks about the strength, prestige, and refinement of the brand, the underlying life-changing element is affiliation/belonging, arising from the pride of owning a car that has always been the choice of the elite.
To better understand how delivering on the elements impacts company performance, you must hire a marketing information company specializing in consumer motivations. One such name is Research Now.
Alternatively, you can hire a buyer persona expert to research for you. Also, hiring companies that help brands and organizations better understand the customers you want to build relationships with, collect the insights you need, and recommend a clear, business-savvy roadmap, such as Lucid, is an option. Collaborating with them can help you successfully conduct surveys with thousands of consumers in your target market.
The analysis of the results will indicate which elements matter the most. It will help you gather information on consumers’ perceptions of how sellers in those industries performed on the 30 elements of value. These are areas of differentiation, and thus your investment would be worth it.
The result analysis provides another valuable lesson: how excelling at providing multiple and higher elements pays off. In the healthcare and manufacturing sectors, this asset is strongly correlated with acquisition and higher customer loyalty, and performance on the elements and customer loyalty have a nearly one-to-one statistical relationship.
The average NPS (Net Promoter Score) of strong performers is 60 percent higher than companies excelling at only one to five elements and several times higher than companies excelling at no elements. So, when it comes to elements of value, the more you integrate them into your value propositions, the better. Still, logic also says cramming all elements is a recipe for disaster. You must choose elements you can deliver and those that matter most to your customers. For example, data shows that customers in the manufacturing industry make more repeat purchases from strong performers.
Step 2: Build a four-tiered B2C content strategy. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Which questions go with which buyer persona and at which stage?
- How do they connect? In other words, which questions connect to building momentum with a story for a persona/segment?
- How should you prioritize content for your editorial calendar?
- What do you want as the consumer’s takeaway from your content, and how will it answer them?
- What is your content’s linking strategy? Will it have a “what’s next” piece of content to link to? In other words, does it make the consumers/readers look forward to your subsequent communication? Is your content creating a legacy?
- How should you roadmap topics in your content editorial calendar?
Step 3: Craft content that addresses the four tiers and maps them to a story for the buyer persona or group of personas. It is a lot of work, and human intelligence is critical. You need a team that understands the four-tiered B2C content model and comprises experienced marketing strategists, buyer-persona experts, data analysts, researchers, storytellers, editors, and search engine optimization experts. Their collective effort will create a compelling story for your customers to win their minds and hearts and onboard them, making a meaningful difference in your company’s revenues and profits.
Do you want to adopt a four-tiered B2C content model for your business and succeed beyond your wildest imagination? Partner with OUR TEAM, which developed and implemented success stories for various industries. Contact us.