There is a growing recognition that successful marketing of food products should take the consumer, the ultimate judge in the market, as point of departure. This will allow producers to add value to their products while consumer needs will be more closely satisfied. As a consequence consumer motivations underlying consumer behaviour have become a central consideration in marketing of food products. Recently, means-end theory with its accompanying laddering research technique has been proposed as a new integrated way to study the relations between consumers and products. According to this approach, consumers choose products because they believe that the specific attributes of the product can help them to achieve desired ends through the consequences or benefits of product-use. This approach offers great potential for consumer oriented marketing for agricultural and food products. This paper describes means-end chain theory and the laddering data collection method, and provides an empirical application to beef. Results of a study in Belgium are reported and it is indicated how these results can serve as a basis for segmentation, product or brand assessment and advertising.