A Lincoln, Nebraska, resident urged his city council to ban the term “boneless chicken wings,” The New York Times reported. Pleading his case as a matter of false advertising, he argued good-naturedly that no meat from boneless wings comes from the wing itself. Bad marketing can kill a product.
According to The New York Times, a recent city council meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, took a turn for the strange when a councilman’s adult son shook up an otherwise dull public event. “Two hours into the meeting, a man walked to the lectern and elevated a barroom debate […] to a matter of civic importance,” the article said. He proposed that the city ban the use of the word “wings” when referring to boneless chicken wings.
In a video of his proposal, Ander Christensen laid out his case with several points. “Number one: Nothing about boneless chicken wings actually come from the wing of a chicken,” Christensen said. “Number two: Boneless chicken wings are just chicken tenders.”
Christensen offered more reasons, but the issue remained the same: that small pieces of chicken breast are unduly called “boneless wings.” Marketing rests at the center of the issue.
Understanding Value, Pt. 1
One of the most important aspects of understanding how to market a product to a customer is to understand the value it offers them. However, there are four kinds of value a customer could get from a product, and the importance of each value type will vary from person to person.
“Functional value is what an offering does—its purpose, the solution it provides to a customer’s problem,” said Dr. Ryan Hamilton, Associate Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “The functional value associated with a car is that it gets you from Point A to Point B; the functional value of a bottle of water is that it quenches your thirst and hydrates you.”
Dr. Hamilton said that rival products on the market differ in their functional value, often based on how well they fulfill a need. For example, a floor cleaner has more functional value than its competitors if it works better or saves the customer time.
“The second potential source of value that consumers can derive from an offering is monetary value,” he said. “Monetary value is a function of the price paid for an offering relative to its overall perceived worth to the customer. As such, monetary value isn’t a completely distinct form of value from the other sources of value; rather, it invites a trade-off between those other types of value and the monetary costs.”
One example of this is the rise in popularity of fast food. Part of what we pay for is the convenience of not having to cook a meal ourselves.
Understanding Value, Pt. 2
“A third source of value is social,” Dr. Hamilton said. “Sometimes owning a particular product allows consumers to connect with other people. If you’ve ever had someone strike up a conversation with you over the type of computer you’re using, the type of hat you’re wearing, or the type of motorcycle you’re driving, then you’ve experienced social value.”
The fourth and final kind of value is psychological value. Sometimes we use products or services in order to express ourselves and make ourselves feel better. According to Dr. Hamilton, sometimes all the customer wants from an exchange is to feel comforted, secure, or hopeful.
“The key insight here isn’t just that people derive value from these four different sources, but that these sources of value aren’t equally important all the time to all consumers. In fact, how important each value is will depend on the consumer and the purchase.”
Chicken wings clearly provide a functional value of keeping hunger at bay, and a monetary value of convenience compared to cooking them ourselves. However, if Ander Christensen’s boneless wing speech gains enough traction, restaurants may want to reconsider how they market them.
Dr. Ryan Hamilton contributed to this article. Dr. Hamilton is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, where he has taught since 2008. He received his PhD in Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.