Why Your Shoppers’ Values Should Matter to Your Brand

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Why Your Shoppers’ Values Should Matter to Your Brand

As individuals, we each have a “story” that defines us as a person, guides our decision-making and helps us navigate our lives. Stories are also powerful, important tools for brands. They help define their role with their constituents and customers, determine their place in the greater marketplace, and guide the way they present themselves to their target audiences and the world in general. It is the intersection of these two types of stories that we examine in two recent articles we wrote for Women in Retail and for our book publisher, Kogan Page, about shopper values. 


We cover this topic in our new book, Influencing Shopper Decisions, and it is an important part of how shoppers are approaching purchasing decisions. Brands need a strong story – told across many communication channels – to engage with their audiences. Our research found that 76 percent of shoppers want to be as informed as possible before making a purchase. This provides ample opportunity for brands to tell their story to an interested audience, but they must do so with an understanding that the consumer is in the driver’s seat. 


It’s more than just transactional. Shopping is emotional, too

Shoppers want the brands they buy to have a story that aligns with their own. We write for Women in Retail that “Today’s shoppers approach their purchases with an eye to what the brands say about themselves and what buying their products says about the shopper.” They also want the stories to be anything but superficial. They want real actions that align with these stories – ones that matter, make a difference and that reinforce their own personal narrative. In fact, our data showed that 62 percent of shoppers believe that their purchases are a reflection of their personality. Purchasing is now personal. 


An important piece of the story a brand tells (and acts upon) revolves around social responsibility and making a positive impact on the world. Shoppers want brands to make a promise to do better, and to take real action toward getting there. This can include everything from the way a brand treats employees and its environmentally friendly practices all the way to the brand’s stance on equality, civil rights, economic fairness, and transparency surrounding its business practices and supply chains. 


While this phenomenon is relatively new in the shopping landscape, our data shows value-based purchasing is here to stay. And it is likely going to increase, especially among younger generations. In our article for Kogan Page, we write, “When we cut the data by generation, it’s clear that younger people are much more likely to tie purchases to their personality 68% among Gen Z and Millennials, while just 43% of Boomers agree. As more of Gen Z comes of age and gains purchasing power, the share of overall shoppers who think this way will likely rise.”


Action for brands & marketers

The brand story, and related values, are major considerations during the purchase process. We recommend that brands protect market share by taking steps such as:


  1. Building a strong brand story that accurately reflects your values and commitment to your community.
  2. Ensure that the actions being taken, from marketing and sales to operations and supply chain, truly reflect those stated values and the story being told.
  3. Do the right research to understand your target audience’s own story and values. Identify where those intersect with yours and make sure everyone knows about it.
  4. Change is inevitable, so be prepared for it by keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer sentiment. 

We conclude one article with a reiteration that communicating the brand narrative “effectively and in a compelling way will place your products at the center of a shopper’s self and let them tell their story through their purchases in ways that feel authentic to them. And, most importantly, brands need to back up that narrative with action to make it true.”


Understanding the values that motivate your shoppers is hard work. We can help with that.


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