Chris Rose argues that the population is divided into three ‘values groups’, each of which relate to the world differently. To be effective, communications have to be targeted to the specific needs of each group.
The core points can be summarised quite easily, but I’d recommend reading the full text to enjoy the examples and case studies. My edition was published by Matador, 2011 (2013 reprint).
What are the three values groups, and what distinguishes them?
Which group an individual inhabits is determined by their unmet needs:
- Everyone starts life as a Settler.
- Once their Settler needs are met, they can become a Prospector.
- Once their Prospector needs are met, they can become a Pioneer.
- It is possible to go back from being a Prospector to a Settler, but generally going from a Prospector to a Pioneer is one-way as it is based on self-esteem.
|Settler||Safety, security, identity, belonging|
|Prospector||Success, esteem of others, self-esteem|
|Pioneer||New ideas and connections, living an ethical life, self-choice|
Why values groups are important
“you can get people in any values group to do something if they are allowed or enabled to do it in a way that meets their needs.”
“The kiss of death for communications across values groups is to try and impose the values or ‘reasons’ of one group on another… Despite what some campaigners may believe there is no universal ‘right reason’.”
“Many ‘conventional’ campaigns have centred on universalist-ethical (eg, save-the-planet) and sometimes rationalistic (eg, save-money) propositions. They have lacked fun, fashion, emotion, visible success – in short, the values to appeal to Prospectors.”
- Socially conservative
- Focused on the past
- Like predictability
- Preferred charity brands: family, life-saving, simple/small-scale actions e.g. Guide Dogs for the Blind or RNLI. Clear, personal, bounded actions – not social change or global issues
- Following the rules
- Being in control
- Standing up for your family and community
- (National) Security
- Being normal
- Doing your duty
- Being loyal to those who have helped you and your family/friends
- Making sure the basics get done – e.g. food, health, shelter
- Saving lives
- Being successful and being seen to be.
- Material wealth
- Don’t like being told not to do things or to give things up
- Focused on the future
- Avoid political controversy
- Opportunities rather than connections
- Looking better or best
- Soundbites of stories – can be global or local
- Having fun
- Being a winner
“To engage Prospectors it has to be done on their terms: a better wind turbine than your neighbour, or a donation to Oxfam which will get you talked about in the gym, and preferably make you more attractive to others.”
“Prospectors… tend to be more selective and demanding than those from other Values Worlds. You generally need to create experiences, or desirable things, not just offer ideas or information, and whatever you create has to compete with what social events, brands, commerce and media entertainment has to offer.”
“more fun and outgoing, optimistic and expressive than the Settler World, and much more relationship- and possession-centred than Pioneer World with its emphasis on ideas. Anyone wanting to target Prospectors … must focus on these core Attributes.”
- Love questions, new ideas and the unknown
- Personal ethical responsibility
- Thoughtful about ethics
- Focused on the present
- Benevolence, global justice, openness
- Preferred charity brands: environmentalism, overseas aid.
- Like authenticity
- Like forming connections and networks
New behaviours generally start with Pioneers, then are commodified and consumed as fashionable by Prospectors, then become normal and adopted by Settlers.
“The persistence of individual action because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do, whether or not there seems any prospect of success, can be a characteristic of Pioneers when they act for ethical reasons (this is, internally referenced ideas of right and wrong), and of Settlers when they act for moral reasons (ideas of right and wrong derived from an external, respected Authority).”
What percentage of the UK population is in each of these groups?
- Settler – 31%
- Prospector – 28%
- Pioneer – 41%
UK, 2008. I don’t know what evidence was used to generate these percentages.
How to get different values groups to take action
Communicate in a way that appeals to each group’s unmet needs:
- Enhance the safety, security or belonging of Settlers
- Enhance the esteem of others, or self-esteem, felt by Prospectors
- Engage Pioneers by communicating in ways that involve ideas, innovation, self-direction and ethics.
What actions are appropriate for different values groups?
You need to make sure that your action is something that the values group you are targeting is comfortable with:
Settler actions should be: simple, discrete, achievable and dependable, definitely uncontroversial and ideally officially-sanctioned, familiar, normal, risk-reducing, control-, belonging-, safety- and security-boosting.
Settler actions should not be: innovative, uncertain, controversial, framed as part of a ‘bigger picture’.
Prospector actions should be: visible, immediate, proven, achievable, fun, displayable, fashionable, uncontroversial, socially recognised, celebrity-endorsed if possible, commodified, esteem-boosting.
Prospector actions should not be: innovative, old fashioned or traditional, about following or breaking rules, renunciation (unless it is to gain more), doing things for other people without social reward, framed as ethically- or idea/theory- motivated, controversial or related to an open-ended problem.
Pioneer actions should be: interesting, novel, ethical, complex, change-focused, about ideas not just ‘things’, authentic, an opportunity to connect with new people and ideas, concerned with beauty, nature or justice, about the bigger picture, framed in a way that allows pioneers to make up their own minds and ask questions.
Pioneer actions should not be: doing things because of other people’s – or authorities’ – beliefs or requirements, restricted choices, based on justification by tradition, or justification through a need to be bigger and better.
How to think about communications
Never think of the population as a homogenous mass.
Try to avoid the term ‘message’. Think instead of using the COMPACT list:
- Programme (why you are doing what you are doing: intention and objective)
- Context (what’s around it in time and space)
- Action (the action you’re asking them to take)
- Trigger (motivation of intended audience)