All over the world, a change is happening. An increasing number of people are demanding that brands share their position on societal issues which arise within their industry.
By buying based on beliefs and values, consumers are forcing brands to state their position on sometimes controversial issues. Whether it be diversity, environmental responsibilities, equality, or any other of the issues faced within society, consumers now more than ever expect brands to share their position and fight their corner. For those who do, the potential payoff can be huge. Those who don’t could face the risk of being boycotted by previously loyal customers.
Edelman’s Earned Brand Study 2017 suggests that 50% of the global population consider themselves to be a belief-driven buyer. Younger generations are the most likely to buy on belief, meaning that this trend is likely to continue for years to come. This isn’t a localised phenomenon either, belief-driven buyers are everywhere, well represented on all continents around the world:
Values-based marketing is a powerful tool in attracting those who buy on belief; take Jigsaw’s recent marketing campaign “❤ immigration”, for example:
By being open with their audience and sharing their views on immigration and diversity, they connect with the audience on an emotional level. No doubt, some people do not share their view, but those who do know that they and Jigsaw have a shared belief. This strengthens the relationship between brand and consumer. Not only that, but those who feel strongly about diversity are more likely to advocate for the brand in future, citing their position on diversity as a reason to purchase their products – Edelman’s Earned Brand Study found that 48% of people would advocate for a brand, defend it against critics, and criticise competitors who had failed to speak out.
By having a values-first approach to marketing, it is possible to form strong relationships with those who share your beliefs. It allows your brand to transcend products and services, becoming synonymous with something bigger. Further to this, it is a relatively simple way to contribute to your industry, pushing for change in the areas that are important to you and your customers.
Values-based marketing can help you to win new customers, as well as strengthening your relationship with existing ones – Edelman’s Earned Brand Study found that 67% of belief-driven buyers had bought from a brand for the first time based solely on their position on a controversial issue. 51% also said that they would stay loyal to a brand who shared their opinion on an issue, and 23% of belief-driven buyers would pay a 25% premium for a product from such a brand. In summary, putting your values at the forefront of your marketing can help to win customers, keep them loyal, have them advocate for you, and convince them to spend more with you.
Focusing on values is also an amazing tool when it comes to targeting your campaigns. Traditional demographics are useful for deciding on who to target, but they do little to tell you why that person might buy your product. Two people of the same age, gender, and location might take a very different approach to decision-making. People make decisions based on values and deep-seated beliefs. Leveraging values allows you to understand better the reasons behind the purchase, not just who it was that bought from you. In turn, this allows you to hone your campaigns and target people who share your vision and ideology.
It’s not just the positive effects of values-based marketing that make it essential for today’s brands, but the potential harm that can come from staying silent on important issues:
Belief-driven buyers expect a brand to not only speak out on an issue they care about (globally, the top-cited issues were immigration, gender equality, and environmental regulation) but also to ensure that the issue is authentic to the brand by addressing how it affects customers, product, employees, manufacturing, the brand’s physical environment and its core values. They expect a brand to commit money (70 percent), time (72 percent) and influence (68 percent) to the cause and express its beliefs through (in order of importance) employees, day-to-day business, sourcing, manufacturing and advertising. – 2017 Edelman Earned Brand Study
Creating emotionally-engaging content and values-based campaigns that feel authentic requires brands to take a close look at the issues that are faced by people in their industry and find one which they feel a genuine responsibility to address; something the brand and its consumers care passionately about. Then, they need to act on it.
By actively seeking to change their industry for the better, brands naturally begin to project an image which encapsulates their core values. Content and campaigns become about a cause rather than a product and this assures potential customers that you share their values and are striving to improve your industry. Over time, customers who share your brand’s vision and ideology will become strong advocates for you, creating trust for your brand within their networks.
It’s no longer acceptable to tow the line and avoid controversial issues. Consumers expect more from brands. They expect them to speak out and support the people who make their success possible. These expectations present an opportunity for growth and relationship-building which companies need to grasp with both hands – Find your calling, your purpose, your passion, and work towards improving it for everyone.
You can view the full 2017 Edelman Earned Brand Study here.
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