Metrics That Matter: Identifying the Importance of Consumer Wants and Needs

Martin R. Lautman
Marketing Channels, Inc.

Koen Pauwels
Tuck School of Business Dartmouth College


The efficient allocation of marketing and promotion resources frequently is dependent on the ability of an organization to answer the deceptively simple retrospective question, “Why did customers, noncustomers, or prospects act as they did?” or, prospectively “Why did customers, noncustomers, or prospects indicate that they are intending to take some future action?”

Market research practice provides a well-accepted forum for addressing what might be termed the “what” question that underlies the “why” question; that is, within the relevant competitive set and target universe, “What is or was important to customers, noncustomers, and prospects at the point in time when the decision was made?” The logic of typical market research protocols is that by revealing “what” was important to the consumer then the “why” question can be readily answered. Given that analytic framework, it is not surprising that many companies expend significant resources to identify and monitor the “what's” in the form of appropriate attributes, benefits, and claims—concisely termed ABCs—for relevant brands and services (Lautman, 1993).