Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life currencies

The art of creating a brand positioning is knowing precisely what it is to say about your product that makes it most appealing to the customer.

But before we can develop that articulation, 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 decision on whether or not to purchase something.

The twelve life currencies we as marketers can manipulate in purchase decisions are:

• Information
• Time
• Space
• Human Energy
• Expertise
• Fun
• Fear
• Frustration
• Convenience
• Love
• Quality
• Money

The only currency we ever talk about is money, but the reality is that every individual has this combination of currencies continually being evaluated in their subconscious that they measure when contemplating a purchase decision. The currency in your pocket is often of least concern.

Using Life Currencies


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.

Eric D. Schulz
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? Frustration or lack of convenience is the primary currency that makes that purchase (or non-purchase) decision.

Have you ever wanted a giant LCD HDTV, 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 (and non-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 many of your purchases, 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.

- Eric D. Schulz

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