Means-End Chains Analysis Online

Suzanne C. Beckmann
Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Morten Schrøder
Director and Partner, Wilke A/S, Denmark.

THE MEANS-END CHAINS APPROACH IN MARKETING RESEARCH

Means-end chains theory recognizes that consumers do not buy products for the product's sake, but for what the product can do for them. The theory relates the product to the consumer by positing a hierarchical cognitive structure involving linkages between attributes of the product, consequences of product use, and personal values of consumers (cf. Gutman, 1982). While attributes are theconcrete, tangiblecharacteristics oftheproduct, consequences refer to what the product does for or provides to the consumer at the functional or psychosocial level. Finally, values are intangible outcomes or ends, representing consumers' most basic and fundamental needs and goals, and motivating behaviour across a wide range of situations (e.g., Schwartz,1992).