Zenzi’s Social Values Project seeks to identify key markers of consumer values in order to allow brands to communicate with their customers on a deeper, value-based level. Two of the value-driven motivational types the project has uncovered are Prestige Seekers and Pleasure Seekers. While these two types are similar, there are also key differences that could significantly impact the effectiveness of messaging targeted to these consumers. First let’s look at a description of both:



• Prestige Seeker – The decisions these consumers make are guided by a desire for recognition, external acknowledgment of their achievements, and a high position in the social hierarchy. They are status-conscious consumers who like to work hard, but also like to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

• Pleasure Seeker – The primary motivation guiding these consumers is the desire to experience pleasure as often as possible. While these consumers may vary in they type of pleasure they seek (e.g. intellectual stimulation, “thrill-seeking”, social interaction), the common thread is that they enjoy frequent stimulation of the senses and prefer variety in their lives.

In short, both of these value types like to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. They both tend to be young, extraverted, prefer the “latest and greatest” products, spend money freely, and are both very active on social media. So the temptation might be to try to motivate them with similar kinds of appeals. However, Zenzi’s research has identified some important differences between people who seek prestige/status and those who just want to have fun:

As the above graph indicates, Pleasure Seekers tend to prefer purchasing experiences while Prestige Seekers gravitate toward purchasing material items. Prestige Seekers tend to prefer stories with happy endings, while Pleasure Seekers do not. And finally, despite their extraverted nature, Pleasure Seekers feel more peaceful when alone than Prestige Seekers do, perhaps because they’re tired after all of that experiential buying!

Subtle differences such as these can make a big difference when trying to motivate people of different value types. For example, positioning a product as an experience (as opposed to a material item or status symbol) may be effective with Pleasure Seekers, but not with Prestige Seekers, who may respond more to the external image implied by the product itself.

To illustrate, let’s look at a brand whose positioning has evolved over the years in response to the changing value profile of its customers. Here is a 1986 ad for Jose Cuervo tequila:

quervo 2.JPG

Note the emphasis on the status/social advantages associated with consumption of this product, and the use of a celebrity endorser, tactics that have been shown to appeal more to Prestige Seekers. And now, a more recent ad by the same brand:


In response to the changing values of its consumer base, Jose Cuervo now emphasizes the experiential elements of fun, adventure, and of course…sex appeal, in its messaging. This approach is far more likely to motivate the Pleasure Seeking audience that they are now targeting. A deep understanding of the ways in which the value profile of its customers has shifted over time allowed Jose Cuervo to alter is messaging appropriately to target the appropriate segment.

What is the value profile of your customer base? Understanding the value motivators of your customers is critical when tailoring a marketing strategy to the desired segment. For more insights into the value-based motivators associated with different consumer segments, contact Zenzi for more information about the Social Values Project.