[New Research] Consumers Purchase Based on Brand Values – But That’s Not All

Brand values matter -- especially to Millennials and the generations who come after. Here's how to incorporate your brand values.

By Ivana Taylor

Published on July 4, 2022

In This Article

Brand values matter — especially to Millennials and the generations who come after. So, if you’re a business owner over the age of 55, and you sell to millennials, pay attention.

New research shows that brand values influence what companies consumers choose, and customer experience is what keeps customers loyal.

This means that brand values must be a part of your marketing message and your customer experience.

Boomer Business Owners Better Get Some Brand Values

As someone who teeters between Gen X and Boomers, I’ve had my share of conversations with founders, CEOs, and business owners who are stuck in the mindset that product and service performance is all that matters.

baby boomers brand values: chart describing that baby boomers want reliable products

And, if you’re selling primarily to Boomers and older, this is still the case. In other words, while Baby Boomers like to purchase from companies with a brand’s core values that match their own, they aren’t as likely to jump ship if the product or service is meeting their needs.

Millennials want brands to align with their values

Since the 1990’s this perspective has been changing. As millennials have become stronger consumers and primary decision makers both at home and at work, they want to purchase from brands that more closely match their values.

chart showing that millennials want brands to share their values

So, if you’re selling to Millennials, you’re going to need to turn up the volume on your brand values.

A Great Example of Shifting and Promoting New Brand Values

AirBnB was founded at the start of the financial crisis in 2008. They are one of the examples of brand values that have shifted from more pragmatic and feature oriented, to brand values that are more current and speaking to the core human need to belong.

What Consumers Want From Brands

Today’s consumers are incredibly value conscious. That means that if you don’t give them a reason to choose you, they will simply purchase the lowest price, no-name, brand.

Our “Shrinkflation” survey showed that 75% of consumers are happy to purchase a generic store brand instead of a higher priced brand name product.

Chart 75% of consumers will purchase a store brand over a brand

But that doesn’t mean that they eschew brands — not at all. Consumers want what they pay for. And, if your brand strategy consistently delivers on what you promise, it will inspire brand loyalty.

Millennials spending power is over 2 trillion dollars! They are currently outspending every other generation. They are also driving the responses in our most recent survey.

Do Brand Values Drive Consumer Purchases?

Yes. 65% of consumers prefer to purchase from a brand that shares their values.

chart: consumers prefer to purchase from companies who share their brand values

Our recent QuestionPro survey showed that brand values overwhelmingly influence who they buy from.

Does it Matter if the Business is Big or Small?

There is no difference between big brands and small businesses when it comes to consumers’ desires to purchase from a brand that shares their values.

chart: consumers don't see a difference between big brands and small businesses when it comes to brand values

Today’s consumers integrate brand values with their own values to such a degree that it makes no difference to them whether or not the business is big or small, a big brand or an unknown. We only know that core values matter.

Will Consumers STOP Purchasing From Businesses Who Go Against Their Customer’s Values?

No. 55% of consumers surveyed said that they would stop purchasing from a company that took a position that the consumer did not agree with.

chart 55% of consumers will stop purchasing from brands who share their brand values

Consumers are split on what happens when a company’s core values go against their own.

What this says to business owners is that you can’t please everyone all the time. There is enough business out there for everyone, but if you play it safe, your liable to get no one.

The lesson for business owners is that you have to have strong brand values and do your best to attract those consumers who resonate most with what you value as a business.

Take a Prudent Stand on Social Issues

60% of consumers said that they would prefer for the businesses they buy from to take a stand on social issues.

60% of consumers think a company should take a stand on social issues

There has been a lot of conflicting opinion on whether or not big brands should take a stand on social issues.

Consumers say yes, but, this is a much more complex issue.

When Disney took a social stand on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, they drew the ire of conservatives. There were people who saw this is pure PR because Disney was also a significant donor in Florida politics.

As you can see from this example, company values and their impact on employees and customers are nothing to sneeze at.

The question you have to ask yourself is what brand core values do you share with your customers and which values are worth taking a stand for.

What are Brand Values?

Brand values are the guiding principles that a business lives by. They are what a company stands for and the promises it makes to its customers.

Brand values drive how a company behaves and informs decisions made about marketing, product development, and customer service. Strong brand values inspire loyalty in customers and employees alike.

Why are brand values important?

Having strong brand values allows a business to stand for something more than just making money.

Brand values help businesses make decisions about what products to develop and which marketing campaigns to pursue.

When customers know what a company stands for, they are more likely to be loyal and recommend the business to their friends.

How to Find Your Brand Value

Now that you understand that business brand values will help you establish brand loyalty with your customers, you’ve decided that it’s time to tell your brand story to your target audience.

How do you find your brand’s values? Check out some of these branding exercises.

Distinguish values from goals

It’s really important to separate your core values from your business goals.

Values are what a company stands for, while goals are what a company wants to achieve. A company’s values should always be in line with their goals, but the two are not always synonymous. For example, a goal may be to make money, but a value could be that you treat customers with respect.

Make a list of your passions and your peeves

The first step is to make a complete and long list of your passions and peeves. What are you committed to for your customers and what can they count on you for?

Find out what matters to your ideal customers

Brand values are like people. Like attracts like.

With your own core values in hand, you can start looking at your best clients and customers and identifying what their core values are and what matters to them.

What did you find? What core values did you share?

How to Incorporate Your Values Into Your Business

Once you’ve identified your company’s core values, the next step is to incorporate them into your business.

Your values should be at the heart of your marketing, product development, and customer service. If customers can see that the company they’re doing business with shares their same values, they are more likely to stay loyal to that brand.

Here are a few tips:

Make your values visible

If being environmentally conscious is one of your core brand values, then your customers would expect to see a lot of recycling going on, environmentally friendly lighting, etc.

You get the idea. Customers should be able to experience your values upon meeting you, buying from you, etc.

Emphasize Core Human Desires in Your Marketing

Most businesses assume that they need to take a stand on societal or political issues. Unless you’re an activist, I wouldn’t recommend that. Instead, I prefer more customer centric values because it’s easier to maintain consistency over time.

Authentic branding wins customers

When customers know what a company stands for, they are more likely to be loyal and recommend the business to their friends. If you’re looking to create brand loyalty with your customers, it’s important to start by establishing strong core values that you care about.