Means-End Chain Assignment
The purpose of this assignment is to gain insight into how consumers view products. In
fact, it is to gain insight into the potentially differing views consumers can have of the
The assignment asks you to find four consumers with whom you can talk to for about
5-10 minutes each. You will interview each consumer regarding a recent product
purchase. The interview will be conducted in such a way so that you can develop a
means-end chain at interview’s end.
One important point is to find four consumers who have made a recent purchase in the
same product category. So, for example, facial tissues, sports watches, socket
wrenches, bath towels, toasters, dress socks, etc. are all product categories. Now,
within product categories there are always different brands. Here is where you can have
some fun. You may either interview your four individuals who have all bought the same
brand, or you can find two individuals who bought one brand and two individuals who
bought a different brand. So, if your product category is facial tissues, you can interview
four people who recently bought the Puffs brand of facial tissues, or you could interview
two individuals who bought Puffs and two individuals who bought Kleenex. You get the
idea I’m sure.
Please follow the following guidelines for the interview
Begin the interview by asking the person to list all the product attributes that they
thought were most important to them when they bought the product. (This is why a
relatively recent purchase works best here.)
This could be a list of varying lengths. Sometimes the list is long, other times short.
(After the interview is completed, ask yourself: What does this list immediately tell
me about the two consumers?)
Then ask the person to choose the two attributes which they think are the most
important to them. You will use these two attributes in the rest of the interview.
The “laddering” part of the interview now begins. Ask the person:
Why is [attribute 1] so important to you?
What does [attribute 1] give you or do for you?
Using the answer to the above question, ask:
So why is
so important to you?
Now using the answer just given, ask:
So why is
, then, so important to you?
Continue on in this fashion until the person cannot answer any more, or just gets
frustrated and says, “Because!”
Now, ask your interviewee about attribute 2. Proceed just as you have done with
attribute 1. You have just completed your laddering interview.
Now comes the really “fun” part: Analyzing the interviews. For this part, you will need to
do the following:
Describe each person in terms of demographics (gender, age, family life cycle,
Give each consumer a name (it does not have to be their real name); this will
make it easier to refer to each person
Draw the four means-end chains; one for each person interviewed
Analyze the means-end chains for each consumer
Contrast and compare the means-end chains between all four consumers
Reach some conclusions about what you learned about your four consumers and what
the product and/or brand means to these four individuals. This should include things like
the number of attributes each person named, which two attributes were the most
important, each person’s attitudes toward the product, their product knowledge, etc.
Most importantly, make sure you answer these questions: (1) Do all four consumers
derive the same meaning from the product or do different consumers derive different
meanings? (2) What unique insights are gained from a means-end chain analysis? and
(3) How can marketers use the means-end chain to develop marketing strategies?
Please hand-draw your means-end chains. You do not need to spend hours making it
“look nice” – unless, of course, you can easily use some graphic’s program to do so.
Suggestion: please keep the product simple. Avoid using complex products like cars,
computers, smartphones, etc.
Have fun with the product.
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