The B2B elements of Value

Recognizing the full range of both rational and emotional factors behind business purchases—and tailoring the value proposition accordingly—is critical to avoiding the commodity trap.

Bain analyzed scores of quantitative and qualitative customer studies conducted over three decades, examining what mattered most to buyers. From this research, 40 fundamental “elements of value” were identified. They fall into five categories: table stakes, functional, ease of doing business, individual, and inspirational.

The B2B model sorts the elements into the levels of a pyramid, with those providing more objective value at the base and those that offer more subjective value higher up. The model traces its conceptual roots to the hierarchy of needs that the psychologist Abraham Maslow first described in 1943.

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