Times are tough and the need to focus on value is evident. But it’s the interpretation of the meaning of value that has me concerned. When did value only become synonymous with “cheap”?

Let’s step back and look at the true meaning of value as it relates to your customer. Value is defined as: “the quality of anything that renders it desirable or useful.” Digging a bit deeper, we discover that “perceived value” is “the customer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the product’s market price and depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.” And, is it Worth What Paid For (WWPF) – defined as “the customer’s judgment on the satisfaction derived from a purchase? It’s determined more by the item’s perceived value than by the price of contents or materials.”

According to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA), it’s vital for retailers to understand the tried-and-true Consumer Value Equation. Consumers are driven first by emotional factors like trust, concern for family, stress reduction and experience. Rational factors like price, quality, and convenience are secondary in importance. “Anyone can sell product by dropping their prices, but it does not breed loyalty. It’s such a short-term strategy,” said Simon Sinek, president of the New York-based strategic consultancy Sinek Partners. I’m afraid we’re missing the boat when we focus too hard on price points, discounts and black-and-white ROI in these tough times. We lose sight of our ongoing opportunity to elevate the ROE (Return on Experience) – and engage the emotions that continue to drive purchasing decisions.

Let’s take Viva paper towels for example. Personally, I love them. When I make a mess, I can clean it up with a single towel versus three or four of a cheaper brand. So, even though they’re the more expensive option, in the long run, the cost is really the same. And, my ROE is very satisfying. So, why are we all screaming value? Shouldn’t ROE be something we focus on every day to be successful and build our brand’s value? Not just in tough times?

Shouldn’t we strive to find fresh yet effective ways to elevate the customer’s experience by focusing on their needs? To continue to build a relationship that remains strong through any economy? Our answer is yes, yes, yes. What’s yours? What is the Return On Experience your service or product can provide to the customer? How valuable is the return the customer gets on that experience? Honestly answering those questions and delivering upon them is my challenge to you and to us here at the HAUS.

What’s discovered – is priceless.