Linking Products and Consumers: The Consumer Benefit Ladder Approach

6 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2009

See all articles by Marian Chapman Moore

Marian Chapman Moore

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This note provides a brief overview of the consumer benefit ladder (CBL) technique, a tool used to uncover why consumers buy particular products or services. CBLs are similar to means-end chains, hierarchical value maps, and so forth.



Sept. 19, 2008

Linking Products and Consumers:

The Consumer Benefit Ladder Approach

Why do people buy anything? Because of the value the product, service, idea, or experience provides. As with beauty, however, value is in the eye of the beholder. Consumers determine what they value, firms do not, thus, the notion that marketers offer a value proposition to their target markets. Marketers must determine what people value and how their firm can deliver and communicate value to their chosen customers. How do we uncover what value our product might offer consumers? There are many techniques for doing so, but in this note we will concentrate on one: the consumer benefit ladder.

The consumer benefit ladder (CBL) is derivative of a long-standing technique used in sociology and psychology called “laddering.” The idea is to get people to reveal more than the obvious or the socially acceptable reasons for doing what they do. The guiding assumption is that personal values drive much of one's behavior. The laddering process is iterative. A researcher asks an individual questions about his or her behavior; each question is based on the answer to the previous question. Increasingly, more substantive motivations are revealed. The laddering metaphor is apropos because the process is akin to climbing the steps on a ladder—with each step, one gets closer to the goal. The resulting ladder is formally referred to as a hierarchical value map (HVM). For the purpose of this note, we will keep things simple and focus on the marketing application of the psychological tool.

. . .

Keywords: marketing, consumer behavior, purchase motivation

Suggested Citation

Moore, Marian Chapman, Linking Products and Consumers: The Consumer Benefit Ladder Approach. Darden Case No. UVA-M-0750, Available at SSRN:

Marian Chapman Moore (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics