Means-end chains: Connecting products with self

Beth A. Walker, Jerry C. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


We conducted a study to explore how two decision situations affected subjects' product knowledge, end-goals, and means-end relationships that were activated for greeting cards. Forty female subjects read a decision scenario to buy either a thinking-of-you card or a wedding card. A paper and pencil laddering task was used to elicit subjects' means-end knowledge structures in the given choice situation. In our conceptualization, the means represent product knowledge or attributes, and the ends represent aspects of consumers' self-knowledge that vary in different situations. Content analysis revealed that the thinking-of-you situation activated receiver-related goals (i.e., "to make her happy"), whereas the wedding situation activated end-goals related to self-expression (i.e., "to express my personality"). Analysis of the means-end linkages revealed that differences in the activated goals affected the meaning of the attributes to which the end-goals were connected. We conclude by discussing the implications of incorporating self into theory and research on means-end chains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Business Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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