If you've ever had the pleasure of spending very much time around a three-year-old,
perhaps you've noticed that three-year-olds tend to ask the question, "Why?"
over and over and over.
That's how three-year-olds learn about the world.
But, sometimes, it's frustrating to adults who've explained things.
A three-year-old asks you,
"Why are plants green?"
You give an explanation of photosynthesis that you're
sure would make your high school biology teacher very proud.
Just when you think I nailed this explanation and this three-year-old will be impressed,
the three-year-old looks at you with wide eyes and says once again,
"Why?" You're frustrated.
You want to ask the three-year-old,
"What on Earth are you thinking?
Didn't you understand what I just said?"
Well, if you use the three-year-old game of asking "why" over and over and over
with consumers as a marketing research tool,
what you find is that there's a very interesting pattern
of the answer that consumers give to the question of why they purchase something.
The first 'why' usually results in some kind
of an explanation that has to do with the product attribute.
Why did you buy that brand of toothpaste?
Well, it has fluoride.
If you follow up with another why,
the next response you get is usually a consequence of that attribute.
Why did you want a toothpaste with fluoride?
Well, fluoride helps fight cavities.
If you continue asking why over and over, before very long,
you'll finally get to a question that gives you an answer that deals with social values.
So, the last answer that consumers will usually give you
to a series of "why" questions about why you purchased something is the social value.
Why did you want something that would fight cavities?
Well, if you can fight cavities, you have health.
If you want to achieve all the things in life that you want to achieve,
you need to have your health.
Health is really important.
If you continue asking "why" after the consumer
tells you that the core social value was the reason for buying the product,
usually, the consumer will become frustrated
and treat you like an irreverent three-year-old,
maybe even punch you in the nose.
Who knows? But, usually,
when the consumer gets to the value,
that's the end of the line.
One way of thinking about this would be to say that
the core reason that people buy products
is because of the social value fulfillment that they received from buying those products.