Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life Currencies

Eric Schulz
Often, getting someone to buy your product is as simple as just asking them to do so. The trick is to make the ask in a way that makes it so appealing to them they just can’t say no. This is part of the art of creating a brand positioning – knowing precisely what it is to say about your product that makes it most appealing to the customer.

But before we can develop the brand positioning, we need to understand what it is that the consumer is seeking, and most importantly, we need to understand the criteria the consumer uses when making their purchase decision.

Understanding the concept of life currencies is the best place to begin the process of consumer insight. What, are life currencies? They are the things besides money that affect purchase decisions. In almost every transaction, there is a combination of life currencies in play that affect the selling proposition.

The eleven life currencies we can manipulate in purchase decisions are:

  • Information
  • Time
  • Space
  • Human Energy
  • Expertise
  • Fun
  • Fear
  • Angst
  • Convenience
  • Love
  • Money
The only currency we ever talk about is money, but the reality is that every individual has this combination of currencies that they spend or save when contemplating or making a purchase. The currency in your pocket is often of least concern.

Here are some examples of how life currencies work. Have you every purchased a good or service because having that would save you a lot of time? Time therefore is one currency that you value and use as a consideration when making the purchase decision, along with money.

Have you ever walked away from buying something because you were frustrated standing in line or waiting on the phone, or the website was just too slow? Angst or lack of convenience is the primary currency that makes that purchase (or non-purchase) decision.

Have you ever wanted a giant TV, but haven’t bought it because you don’t have a place in your home to put it? Space (or lack of space), is the primary currency that sways the (non) purchase decision.

Step back for a moment and think about the purchases you’ve made in the past several days, I’ll bet that one of the other life currencies was the determining factor in the majority of these, though you were likely unaware of its influence.

When business schools teach marketing, they focus on the 4-P’s: Product, Placement, Promotion, and Price. When they talk about price, they only talk about money. That’s wrong. Smart marketers know that for most products, money is only one factor in the purchase decision, and it’s often a minor one at that.

About the Author

Eric D Schulz is Sr. Lecturer and Co-Director of Strategic Marketing & Brand Management at the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He is a brand marketing expert and the author of “The Marketing Game, How The World’s Best Companies Play to Win”, with sales of over 250,000 copies worldwide. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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