The 30 Elements of Consumer Value: A Hierarchy

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Jul 27, 20234 min read


The 30 Elements of Consumer Value: A Hierarchy

What do consumers truly value? It can be a complex and elusive question, as the perceived value of a product or service varies from person to person. However, there are universal building blocks of value that can provide companies with opportunities to enhance their performance in existing markets or venture into new ones. These building blocks of value can be organized into a pyramid, with four types of needs: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact.

At the base of the pyramid lies functional value. This refers to the basic attributes and features of a product or service that meet the customer's practical needs. For example, a smartphone that has a long battery life and a fast processor would offer functional value to the consumer.

Moving up the pyramid, we find emotional value. This type of value is more subjective and taps into the customer's feelings and emotions. It can be derived from factors such as aesthetics, design, or the overall experience of using a product. Think of a luxury watch that not only tells time but also makes the wearer feel sophisticated and elegant.

Above emotional value, we have life changing value. This type of value goes beyond meeting practical needs or eliciting positive emotions. It has the power to transform a customer's life in a significant way. Consider a fitness app that helps individuals achieve their health and wellness goals, leading to improved physical and mental well-being. This app would offer life changing value to its users.

Finally, at the peak of the pyramid, we find social impact value. This type of value is centered around making a difference in the world and contributing to a greater cause. Companies that prioritize social responsibility and sustainability can tap into this type of value. For instance, a clothing brand that uses ethically sourced materials and donates a portion of its profits to charity would offer social impact value to its customers.

While the elements of value pyramid provides a practical model for understanding consumer preferences, it is important to note that the perception of value is subjective and can vary among individuals. What one person values highly may not hold the same significance for another.

Now, let's shift gears and explore the concept of "vicious traps". The idea that innocent small things can combine to form something dangerous is not intuitive. However, this is precisely what happens in the case of bubbles. Bubbles occur when seemingly positive traits such as confidence, optimism, and trust mix together and give rise to greed and delusion.

The reason why bubbles are so common is that the inputs leading to their formation are mostly innocent. Confidence, optimism, and trust are generally considered positive attributes. However, when these traits are combined without proper caution and critical thinking, they can result in irrational exuberance and financial turmoil.

Similarly, the combination of patience and confidence can lead to a dangerous trap. On their own, both traits are admirable and valuable. However, when mixed together, they can form stubbornness. Confidence that you're right can blind you to signs that you may be wrong, and patience can prolong this denial indefinitely. This trap prevents individuals from recognizing their mistakes and adapting their strategies accordingly.

Another trap to be aware of is the tendency to idolize individuals who think in unique ways. While it is important to appreciate and learn from those who have unconventional ideas, it is equally important to recognize that they may also possess unique ways of thinking that we may not admire. Successful businesses often thrive on a balance between innovative thinkers and those who can objectively evaluate and filter ideas. It is crucial to understand our own strengths and weaknesses and be willing to collaborate with others who complement our skills.

In conclusion, understanding the elements of consumer value and being aware of the traps that can hinder our decision-making processes are essential for companies and individuals alike. Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

1. Continuously assess the value your product or service offers to consumers. Identify the elements of value that are most important to your target market and find ways to enhance those attributes.

2. Be cautious of falling into the traps of confidence, patience, and idolizing unique thinkers. Practice critical thinking, seek diverse perspectives, and be open to questioning your own assumptions.

3. Foster a culture of collaboration and balance within your organization. Encourage the exchange of ideas and feedback, and ensure that there is a healthy mix of innovative thinkers and evaluators.

By understanding the hierarchy of consumer value and avoiding the pitfalls of vicious traps, companies and individuals can strive for greater success and growth in their respective endeavors.


  1. "The 30 Elements of Consumer Value: A Hierarchy", (Glasp)
  2. "Vicious Traps", (Glasp)

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