Conscious Consumers: The Growing Role of Brand Values

Published Oct 25, 2021

Toluna,

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Real-time consumer insights are crucial in today’s environment. They help brands stay connected with their audience, and they allow consumers to share their opinions when brands are listening more than ever. After all, 88% of global consumers believe that brands should be accountable to consumers.

With change itself as the only true constant during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve regularly checked in with global consumers to understand their attitudes, behaviors, and overarching trends. We just fielded Wave 17 of our Global Consumer Barometer Study, and it’s a great opportunity to share our insights on a major marketplace trend that is poised to stick around.

Don’t underestimate the power of brand values.

Right from the start of the pandemic, consumers have remained highly focused on the importance of buying from — and showing support for — brands that align with their personal beliefs and values. An overwhelming 85% of consumers go out of their way to engage with brands that align with their values. And more than 50% have stopped supporting brands that don’t.

Beyond that, buyers don’t just expect brands to stand for something. They expect brands to clearly communicate their values in order to make meaningful connections with customers. Forty percent of consumers feel that businesses should draw more attention to the actions they’re taking to deliver on brand commitments and purpose, and the majority say brands could be doing more to demonstrate their values to their customers. Fifty-seven percent of global consumers believe it’s the responsibility of brands and manufacturers to drive change in society and better support social issues. These findings represent a huge opportunity for brand growth.

Here’s what conscious consumers say matters most to them.

There is evidence that today’s consumers are researching and buying brands based on their values:

58% of global consumers consider whether a brand supports the social issues that are important to them when buying household items, products, services, or technology.

64% of global consumers would switch to brands that actively support social issues that are important to them.

64% say that investing time and care into the decisions they make as consumers is important to them.

Consumers across the globe view all brand values as important, but many are passionate about certain issues, in particular:

60% of global consumers say they are concerned about the environment, and they’re acting on it, too; 70% are reducing their food waste and 66% are recycling.

54% of global consumers are concerned about poverty, followed by human rights (43%), and equality & diversity (40%).

Today’s buyers recognize brand progress and opportunities.

Many consumers feel that brands have stepped it up since the start of the pandemic. This includes the workplace, where 34% of consumers cite improved working arrangements and employee wellbeing, From a customer perspective:

31% noted more advanced products and services that address environmental concerns.

31% cited better customer empathy and service.

30% noted enhanced products or services that better meet consumers’ needs.

30% cited the repurposing of products for different uses during the pandemic.

Still, many consumers want to see brands being even more active in support of key issues. Most notably, they point to food and drink companies (47%); tech companies (40%); energy suppliers (39%); household cleaning, laundry, and washing brands (39%); personal care, hygiene, and toiletry brands (38%); and health and wellness brands (38%).

There’s a strong connection between social media and brand perception.

Social media offers a range of powerful platforms for consumers and brands alike, with 75% of global consumers considering themselves active social media users and 47% saying they log in more now than they did a few months ago. This makes social outlets invaluable tools for sharing or digesting information about brand values, which consumers clearly recognize. Consider the following:

64% of consumers feel that social media allows them to learn more about brands’ commitments on social or ethical issues.

55% feel brands demonstrate positive values through their social presence.

70% of social media users worldwide want brands to use their social platforms to keep them informed on how they’re supporting important social issues and driving brand purpose.

As the data shows, consumers continue to place emphasis on brand values and desire a connection around these causes with the brands they buy. They’re logging into their social media accounts more than ever, and they’re looking for the latest information on brand values and actions.

As we close out 2021, it’s crucial to remember that brands must continue to evolve in the way they position and market themselves to stay relevant. By establishing or reinforcing clear values and communicating them to consumers through the right channels, brands will be positioned for success in the coming year.

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