CONSUMER VALUES: HOW THEY'RE CHANGING AND WHY IT MATTERS

Casey Null - Senior Strategist

As a follow-up to our post about adapting to changing consumer values in the face of a global pandemic, our team explored in greater detail:

  1. The way core values influence consumer behavior
  2. The importance of understanding and addressing the way your customers’ values are changing in the face of a global crisis

But before we focus on the way these values are evolving, it’s important to understand what they are and how they influence consumer relationships with brands.

How do core values influence attitudes and behavior in today’s consumers?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs people hold. They’re the guiding principles that shape our mindsets and dictate our behavior, helping to make sense of the world around us. Core values often serve as the building blocks of our social relationships – with other people, but also with brands.

And these values have a significant impact on the way consumers think and act. The fact is, we don’t make decisions on rationality alone. Humans are inherently emotional, and our emotions and beliefs play a key role in deciding which products we like and which brands we support. We buy not solely for the functional benefits of a product, but also for the social, moral, political and environmental benefits promised to us by the brand.

 How will values evolve as a result of the crisis? 

While it’s natural for people’s values to evolve throughout their lives, the stress and anxiety that come with a global crisis can catalyze change much more quickly than many anticipate. And although it’s nearly impossible to know how specific consumer segments will be affected without conducting targeted research, we can already see values beginning to shift across the broader U.S. population. Consider these predictions:

  • Rising unemployment has put financial strain on many consumers who, as a result, will increasingly value affordability. Brands that innovate to drive overall value – combining competitive pricing with added convenience – will continue to win over new customers looking for their dollar to go farther.
  • Social isolation and a growing sense of public empathy will cause many consumers to value community more than ever. They’ll be looking for brands committed to making an impact on social welfare and community health.
  • Increased attention on both the U.S. economy and global politics will cause some Americans to value nationalism more highly than they did before the pandemic. As consumers pay closer attention to where products are sourced or manufactured, brands looking to build relationships with these groups will need to find ways to increase their footprint within the U.S.

 What about my target audience?

While these predictions may come to fruition for some consumer segments, it’s important to analyze your target audience and identify the common values most likely to influence their attitudes and behaviors. Conducting quick-turn research on how those values are changing can uncover insights that might otherwise be overlooked – insights needed to inform critical developments to your brand.

But, as you’ve likely noticed, change brought about by COVID-19 has been rapid. Now is the time to take action to avoid being behind when the world resets.

If you’re looking for a partner to help guide your brand through times of change, Hart’s strategists are here and willing to help. To learn how our market research audit can help uncover the way your audience’s values are evolving, get in touch.

Also, stay tuned for the final post in our series.  In it, we’ll explore the ways brands can adapt to evolving consumer values and create new experiences that reflect those values more strongly.

Casey Null
Senior Strategist

cnull@hartinc.com
419.893.9600 Ext. 477