Most value propositions will fall into one or more of six basic categories. These are:
This proposition only works for something people already know they want/need. In which case, it is a strong proposition, especially where the product is a commodity or the value proposition belongs to a retailer or reseller where little or no after sales service is expected or required (e.g. Wal-Mart).
NB. This proposition at its most extreme can actually make people want something they hadn’t previously considered they wanted, just because they believe the price is so low it becomes a can’t miss offer.
This is when a product or service has unique features which provide tangible benefits and advantages for the buyer/user which add value – and provided the value added is over and beyond any price differential (if there is one) then it also makes the product better value. This also covers propositions where the ‘uniquely better’ element may be through additional service elements such as a longer guarantee or better after sales service and support.
NB Just having extra features in itself does not provide a reason for a customer to buy. Those features have to provide clear value benefits for the buyer.
This is an emotional category of value proposition and applies where it appeals to people’s aspirations or to their desire to make a statement about their position in life or things with which they want to be associated. For example, a football fan doesn’t buy his club shirt because of the quality of the material; it is because wearing it makes a statement about his allegiance to the club and the group of which he is a part. Likewise, some women may buy a Gucci handbag because of the statement wearing it makes about them, rather than because of its looks or practicality – and certainly not because its cheap. And the value of attending an expensive social event such as Henley or Ascot may be because the attendee aspires to be seen as part of that social set rather than because they love rowing or horse racing.
This value proposition category is straightforward and is most effective where there is a tangible and quantifiable convenience benefit to the customer. It would include products which provide ease and convenience for a user (such as a motorised trolley for a golfer), most services (from shoe cleaning to chauffeuring), and even buying processes which makes the purchase experience more convenient (e.g. online shopping and delivery services from supermarkets).
This is different to the best price proposition above, in that it covers a proposition that offers a reduction in existing costs being experienced by the buyer rather than a lower cost on something about to be bought. For example, an offer to buy a product with “30% off to save £10” is a Price proposition; whereas buying “an energy saving device that will reduce your fuel bills by 30%” is a Savings based proposition.
This type of value proposition includes the provision of safety and protection, and is obviously common place within the insurance, investment and security markets. However, it also includes that wide category of value proposition based on reassurance, where the buyer has made his choice because he feels more comfortable that his choice will be safe and appropriate – not one he may regret later. This is typical of choices made to buy products that may be ‘reassuringly expensive’ or come from higher priced brands that have a reputation for (and therefore a value proposition associated with) quality, reliability, longevity, and/or high standards of personal service.
There is one further category which is not universal and applies only to Businesses and Investors and that is… Better Return On Investment. In many ways, this is very similar to the Lower Price category, but it is different because it is complicated by risk factors which can affect how value is measured