"Laddering is a qualitative marketing research technique, which seeks to understand why people buy and use products and services", states Focus Group Tips. According to The Internet Encyclopaedia of Personal Construct Psychology, Dennis "Hinkle  described a method for which Bannister and Mair (1968) coined the term laddering".
The laddering process initially involved "asking why a person would prefer to be described by one pole of a personal construct rather than the other. The construct "ladder" usually ends up with a statement of the values that underlie a person's construing of their personal world". Bannister and Mair (1968) referred to "laddering down" to yield more subordinate or concrete constructs. This method was later described in greater detail by Landfield (1971) who called it pyramiding.
"Thomas J. Reynolds and Jonathan Gutman developed and introduced laddering in 1988, based on Gutman’s Means-End Theory of 1982. They describe product attributes, consequences, and values. Product attributes produce consequences that produce personal meaning (values) for product users."
"There are four levels to the features-benefits-emotions chain. They are,
- Functional benefits
- Higher Order benefits
- Emotional Benefits
Each level links to the next level. Each level influences buying behavior."