The value of benefits versus features

A few months back I was in the market for a new vehicle and the shopping experience highlighted the idea of benefits versus features for me.

My wonderful 14-year-old minivan faced a semi and lost, getting severely crunched and totaled out. So off to various websites and dealerships I go.

Everywhere, the sales pitch was the same. 

Automatic doors. Automatic locks. Buttons everywhere. The radio. The gas mileage. 

All these features are quite nice and the van I settled on has a few perks. 

Benefits versus features

A feature is a trait of a product. The benefit is why that trait matters to the customer. 

All the sales reps I dealt with were quick to point out the features of the various minivans for sale. However, the intriguing thing to me was that not one sales rep at five different dealerships asked me why I wanted a minivan. 

One or two asked, “You got kids?” However, they did not get into how many kids, why I want a van, how I use my vehicle, how much I travel, etc. They had no idea which features would be beneficial to me, much less how it would be beneficial to me.

benefits vs features
Lots of great features with the minivan, but it was the benefits that this father of 3 looked for.
Why does it matter?

Many people make purchasing decisions based on the benefits rather than the features.

When I was a newspaper publisher and we were considering an atypical purchase, there were a couple of questions that drove our purchasing decision.

The first was do we want it or need it? If you needed it, figure out how to pay for it and get it.

Want fell a little differently. If you wanted something, was it going to save you money? Help you sell more ads? Write stories faster? Make a process more efficient? That drove the decision.

Here’s the thing with the van. I have three daughters. We spend several hours each week in a vehicle. They have book bags, make up bags, sports bags, projects, and all kinds of other stuff. We travel a lot, taking several fairly large road trips each year. 

The automatic back door is nice, and can be helpful, but overall it doesn’t impact my travel decision with my children. Lots of cupholders? That’s important. Lots of storage matters. These are benefits as is how the climate control system is set up and ease of removing and/or adjusting the back seats.

The automatic sliding doors? Nice, but doesn’t provide me much of a benefit over automatic doors. 

The advantage

There is quite a bit of research on benefits over features.

Not that features aren’t important. When faced with two vans that equally answered my concerns, the one with the more features won out. I don’t need automatic everything, but it sure is nice.

Still, the choice of getting XX miles per gallon or saving $XXX per month on gas expenses, which will you likely choose? They may be relatively equal in final valuation, but the miles per gallon sounds like a feature and the saving of money is definitely a benefit.

The key thing is sales. Without it, your business doesn’t bring in the cash it needs and is DOA.

That is why marketing materials need to focus on, but balance, benefits versus features. Boost sales. Grow business.  

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