Are you charging enough?


When it comes to determining the right price for your products or services, understanding how your customers perceive value is paramount. This concept, often encapsulated in the question “What To Pay,” drives every purchasing decision. It’s not just about the cost or the quality of the product; it’s about the perceived value that the product delivers to the customer. This perception is complex, influenced by a myriad of factors that go beyond the tangible and into the realms of emotional and social significance.

In 2016, Eric Almquist, John Senior, and Nicolas Bloch introduced a comprehensive framework to help businesses decode this complex customer perception. Published in the Harvard Business Review, their “Value Pyramid” provides a structured way to evaluate what customers value, breaking it down into four broad categories—functional, emotional, life-changing, and social impact. 

Each category is further divided into specific elements that together comprise 30 distinct aspects of value that customers consider, consciously or subconsciously, when making purchasing decisions.

The Value Pyramid is not just a theoretical construct; it’s a practical tool that businesses can use to systematically understand and leverage what drives customer decisions. By aligning your product or service offerings with the specific elements of value that your customers care about most, you can craft more effective pricing strategies that resonate deeply with your target audience. 

This alignment not only meets but anticipates customer needs and desires, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty while also driving profitability.

This blog will explore each category of the Value Pyramid in detail, illustrating how you can apply these insights to determine “What To Pay.” By understanding and addressing the elements of value that matter to your customers, you can ensure your pricing strategy is both competitive and compelling, leading to sustained business success.

Section 1. Understanding the Value Pyramid.

The Value Pyramid is a nuanced framework designed to help businesses and marketers understand the multifaceted nature of customer value. It categorises the elements of value into four broad levels: functional, emotional, life-changing, and social impact, each contributing uniquely to how customers perceive and evaluate products and services.

Functional Value.

At the base of the pyramid lies functional value, which addresses basic needs and includes elements such as quality, affordability, and convenience. These are the essential attributes that a product or service must deliver to be considered by the consumer. For example, a smartphone’s functional value might be assessed based on its battery life, durability, and ease of use. Businesses need to ensure that their offerings meet these fundamental expectations to stay relevant in competitive markets.

Emotional Value.

Moving up the pyramid, emotional value encompasses how a product or service makes customers feel. This level deals with elements that create an emotional connection with the user, such as reducing anxiety, providing entertainment, or delivering aesthetic beauty. For instance, a beautifully designed piece of jewellery or an elegantly crafted smartphone can evoke feelings of pride and pleasure, enhancing the perceived value beyond mere functionality.

Life-Changing Value.

The third level involves life-changing elements that profoundly impact the consumer’s life, offering hope, motivation, or belonging. Products or services that empower customers, improve their social status or contribute to personal achievements fall into this category. An educational course that leads to career advancement or a fitness program that significantly improves health exemplifies life-changing value, potentially justifying higher prices due to their substantial impact on users’ lives.

Social Impact.

At the top of the pyramid is social impact, which refers to the broader influence a product or service has on the community and society. Elements under this category include ethical sourcing, social responsibility, and community support. Consumers are increasingly valuing brands that contribute positively to the world.

For instance, products that are sustainably produced or companies that give back a portion of their profits to community projects resonate strongly with today’s ethically conscious consumers.

By dissecting these layers, the Value Pyramid provides a comprehensive blueprint for you to analyse and enhance your offerings across multiple dimensions of value. Understanding and integrating these elements into your pricing strategy and product development can lead to a deeper connection with your customers, aligning your offerings more closely with what truly matters to them, thereby optimising both customer satisfaction and business profitability.

Section 2. Understanding Functional Value.

Functional Value forms the foundation of what you, as a customer, evaluate when considering a product or service. It addresses the basic utility, performance, and economic aspects that directly impact your satisfaction and decision-making process. Here’s a deeper look at how you can optimise these functional elements to enhance the overall value and appeal of your offerings.


Quality is paramount. It’s the first thing you notice and often the last thing you remember about a product. Businesses that prioritise high-quality production tend to build a strong reputation over time, leading to increased customer loyalty. For the customer, a high-quality product means reliability and fewer replacements, which translates to better long-term value.

Saves Time.

In today’s fast-paced world, any product or service that saves you time adds immense value. You can capitalise on this by offering solutions that streamline tasks, speed up processes, or combine functionalities in a way that frees up your schedule. Whether it’s a faster cooking appliance, a quicker checkout service, or software that automates mundane tasks, if it saves your customers time, it’s likely worth paying for.


Simplicity is another key element of functional value. Products or services that make your customers life easier by reducing complexity are highly valued. This can be anything from a user-friendly interface on a tech gadget to a no-fuss, ready-to-eat meal solution. Simplification means your customers spend less time figuring things out and more time enjoying the benefits.

Makes Money.

If a product or service can help you generate income, its functional value increases significantly. Tools that enhance productivity, software that opens up new revenue streams, or educational platforms that improve your professional skills are all examples of how businesses can add value by helping you boost your income.

Reduces Risk.

Products and services that minimise risk provide peace of mind, a crucial aspect of functional value. For example, insurance products, safety features in vehicles, or secure payment services all address your fundamental need for security and safety.


An often overlooked aspect of functional value is organisation. Products that help you organise your life, such as smart storage solutions, financial planning apps, or even simple, well-designed calendars, add substantial value by reducing clutter—both physical and mental.


In an interconnected world, products that seamlessly integrate with other technologies enhance their functional value. Smart home devices that synchronise with various apps or software that integrates easily with existing systems can significantly enhance your user experience by creating a cohesive, efficient environment.


In today’s digital age, connectivity is a key functional element. Products that enhance your ability to connect with others, whether through improved mobile services, faster internet, or social networking capabilities, tap into a fundamental human need for social interaction.

Reduces Cost.

Products that save you money in the long run, either through efficiency, durability, or reduced operating costs, provide functional value that’s easy to appreciate. Energy-efficient appliances, durable goods, or services that cut down on recurring expenses can all make a significant difference in your budget.

Reduces Effort.

Products or services that minimise effort on your part naturally hold higher appeal. Businesses can capitalise on this by designing offerings that are easier to use, require less physical effort, or simplify tasks that are typically laborious. For example, robotic vacuum cleaners that operate autonomously reduce the effort you put into cleaning your home, directly adding value through convenience.

Avoids Hassles.

You also value products that help avoid hassles or eliminate annoying problems. Items or services that preemptively solve common issues or streamline necessary but tedious processes can greatly increase customer satisfaction. Think of apps that remember your preferences and streamline booking processes, or kitchen appliances designed to be easy to clean—these all serve to remove daily frustrations, making them highly valuable.


Offering a variety of options within a product line caters to diverse customer needs and prevents the feeling of being stuck with a one-size-fits-all solution. By providing choices—whether in colours, features, or models—businesses can appeal to a broader customer base. Variety ensures that you can find precisely what meets your needs and preferences, enhancing the overall value perception of the brand.

Sensory Appeal.

The way a product engages your senses can significantly impact its perceived value. Products that look, smell, feel, or sound pleasing contribute to a more enjoyable user experience. From the crisp sound of a high-quality audio speaker to the soft touch of luxury fabrics or the visual appeal of elegant design, sensory appeal can turn ordinary products into delightful experiences.


Lastly, products that provide essential information or educate you in some way add functional value by informing your decisions. Smart devices that monitor health metrics, apps that track spending and offer financial advice, or even appliances that provide usage tips are examples of how products can serve an educational purpose, making them more useful and valuable.

By integrating these additional elements into your products, you can further align offerings with your customer’s practical needs and desires, enhancing the functional value and making your products indispensable. Whether reducing effort, adding variety, or informing your decisions, each factor plays a critical role in how your customers perceive and value what they buy, influencing their overall satisfaction and loyalty to the brand.

Your next steps.

Ready to elevate your pricing strategy and align it more closely with what your customers truly value? Take the first step by assessing your own products and services using the Value Pyramid framework. Discover which elements of value you are currently meeting and identify areas for improvement that could significantly enhance how your offerings are perceived and priced.

If you’re looking for deeper insights or need assistance in effectively implementing these strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional consultation. Our team is ready to help you analyse, strategize, and revamp your pricing approaches to ensure they truly reflect the comprehensive value your business provides.

Let us help you transform your business model into one that not only meets market demands but exceeds customer expectations, driving profitability and growth. Take action today and redefine what your products and services are worth!

Hit the button to find out about our Pricing Audit Service.

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