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Cris Xiong

Published on

June 5, 2024


brand strategy, digital marketing, future spotting

Discover the key brand values consumers in different generations are currently seeking, and how these brands, regardless of industry, can set up the right values based on their target audience.

Brand value refers to the worth of a brand in the eyes of consumers and the market. It encompasses tangible and intangible elements such as brand reputation, customer perceptions, and emotional connections. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, brand value plays a crucial role in influencing consumers’ purchase decision and loyalty towards a brand.

Today’s consumers are more conscious than ever about the implications of their purchases. When researching a brand, consumers prioritise understanding its values and recent news stories. Because of this, brands have an opportunity to showcase their core beliefs, going beyond sales pitches to reveal their true identity.

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With stats from GWI, we share the key brand values consumers in different generations seek, and how brands across industries can set up the right value based on their target audience.

asians in different generations running smiling

#1 Generation Preference

Age impacts research efforts

While the majority of consumers express interest in understanding a brand’s values, generational differences come into play. 29.3% of Gen Z is more inclined to research a brands’ manufacturing practices, compared to old generations (Gen X – 24%, baby boomer – 19%). On the contrary, 26.7% of Gen X and 25.5% of baby boomers tend to prioritise brand’s country of origin, compared to the younger generation.

What next?

It is essential for brands to understand their audience and cater to their unique priorities.

For example, amid the claims of ‘misleading’ and ‘deceptive’ environmental scorecards, H&M planned to disclose all the available transparent information of the product and its’ impact, regardless of its score. H&M believes that transparency is key to driving sustainable change across the industry as it creates both comparability and accountability and this will ultimately lead to positive change.

As its major consumers are young generations who are increasingly aware of the impacts of their wardrobe choices, conveying transparency as its key value helps shift the sentiment towards its brand.

A few methods to gather answers include one-on-one interviews, surveys and quizzes, online research, and social listening.

#2 Social Pledges

Social pledges are losing their charm

Consumers are placing less emphasis on a brand’s sustainability pledge, ranking it low on their list of priorities. Only 19% consumers research a brand’s sustainability pledge before making purchase decision. This may be caused by a growing skepticism toward corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, as consumers become wary of ‘CSR washing.’

39% consumers mentioned that only some brands who support social causes in their advertising are authentic. Interestingly, consumers with higher education levels tend to be the most skeptical about brands’ intentions in this regard.

What next?

Rather than relying solely on pledges, brands should focus on tangible actions and outcomes that align with their values.

For example, besides Nespresso’s own recycling infrastructure which provides convenience to its customers, the brand invited other portioned coffee manufacturers to share its recycling system since 2019. In France, like many countries, the public recycling infrastructure is incapable of recycling small, lightweight packaging. Nespresso France has collaborated with Citeo to install systems that separate aluminium packaging from other types of packaging, in French recycling centres. As a result, 93% of Nespresso customers have access to a recycling solution close to home.

A game-changing move recognising that collaboration – not competition – is the only viable pathway to a truly global aluminium coffee capsule recycling solution. This move assured Nespresso’s consumers of the brand’s social responsibility.

pride flag with audience

#3 Political Stance

Winning over your consumers.

The PR and financial implications of political stands are seemingly everywhere these days. The groups who most care about brand’s political stance might surprise you. Luxury buyers are 1.31x more likely to buy from brands aligned with their political values compared to the average consumers. However, LGBTQ+ consumers rank lower on the list (1.12x) despite scoring higher for social statements like “I believe all people should have equal rights”.

What next?

Brands in various sectors should consider their audience’s political leaning and think about joining the conversation.

For instance, Chick-fil-A, a US fast food chain, was routinely criticised for its contributions to nonprofit organisations that are decidedly anti-LGBTQ+. Protesters were so vociferous that the chain announced plans to shutter their first UK location just eight days after it opened. The spokesperson of the company later clarified that the donation is purely focusing on youth and education.

It’s important to investigate thoughtfully on controversial topics, political stands of your consumers and the organisations you want to collaborate with before making a move.

#4 Attitude

Consumers are aligning brand attitude and value to purchase intent.

Most consumers express they are optimistic (16%) and fair-minded (13%) in their values, but traditional and conservative attitudes are the next highest, with 12% consumers aligning on such attitude. Ranking lower on the list, 8% and 7% consumers hold progressive and liberal ideals respectively.

Conservative shoppers are much more likely than their liberal counterparts to purchase luxury items if and when they believe the purchase will help them maintain their social status.

What next?

Understanding your audience is crucial. For instance, Patagonia buyers tend to identify as progressive, differing with New Balance buyers who lean more towards traditional and conservative values. Knowing your audience’s attitude helps set the tone for your brand image and marketing campaigns.

Related content: Future Spotting: 5 Consumer Search Behaviours Trends in 2024

#5 Authenticity

While purpose-driven campaigns can be highly effective for certain brands, it’s essential for companies to carefully profile their customers and reflect on their mission before committing to such strategies. 45% of the consumers want the brand to be authentic, making it the top value which brands need to convey in their messages. Across both fashion and grocery sectors, consumers emphasize the importance of value for money and consistent product quality in perceiving the authenticity of a brand.

Gen Z and millennials give preference to brands that are “real and organic” and not “perfect and well-packaged.”

What next?

Genuine ideas and messaging often touch people’s hearts. They connect customers to a brand emotionally. Be transparent and consistent in its messaging and branding initiatives. For instance, Chobani has come to dominate the Greek yogurt market because of its devotion to bringing delicious, high-quality strained yogurt to America. Combining the CEO’s passion for quality yogurt made with natural ingredients, with his strong sense of duty in creating a positive impact on local communities, as well as a happy, well-paid workforce, has led people to view Chobani as an authentic brand making an honest product.

If you take care to be authentic in your words and actions, your customers will do your marketing for you via word-of-mouth.

Key Takeaways

Brand should understand what brand value and attitude your consumers hold, and form brand value which resonates with them.

A brand should be authentic, transparent and honest about its mission and vision, and be consistent in conveying them in the brand’s PR efforts and marketing campaigns.

However, action is more persuasive than words. Walk the talk along the way. Once the trust is built between brands and consumers, it helps with brand reputation, boosting purchase and customer retention. Remember your consumers are the best advocators for your brand.

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