Today’s shoppers are interested in more than the quality and features of products and services. They want to believe in the brands they buy. As a result, some of today’s most successful marketing campaigns look beyond the product and focus on values and ethics.
People want to make the world a better place and they want to support businesses that make it clear that they do, too. More and more shoppers want to know their products are made and traded fairly and sustainably. They want to know the brands they’re spending money on have equitable hiring policies and pay employees a living wage. They want to be assured that the businesses they support share their views – on racism, LGBTQ rights, health and wellbeing, and more. Businesses use values-based marketing campaigns to communicate their own positions on social, environmental and other issues, and to inspire action around them.
Marketing campaigns built around ethics and beliefs are powerful. They also bring in higher profits. Research shows, for instance, that millennial and Gen Z shoppers are willing to spend more for sustainable goods. But there are better rewards to be gained from adopting a values-based marketing strategy, including a devoted customer base and free advertising.
When brands show they’re passionate about a certain issue, customers connect with them on an emotional level. That common objective builds trust and forms a lasting bond. A deeper connection can help generate sales, but garners even more as customers and companies become allies working towards something bigger. That translates into long-term customer loyalty, word-of-mouth buzz among friends and family and access to communities that hold the same beliefs.
Above all, values-based campaigns need to be authentic. Customers can tell when brands are trying too hard to tie themselves to a cause because it’s trending. Instead of jumping on the latest bandwagon, businesses should highlight values that inform their mission as a corporate and community citizen.
Adopting the following techniques can help build a strong values-based marketing strategy:
- Use simple, inspiring messaging that clearly communicates what you value
Narrow your values-based messaging to a few key themes or an easy-to-remember slogan. Be genuine and practice what you preach. Customers can react negatively if they feel messaging is disingenuous or discover that it contradicts with the brand’s business practices.
- Use strong visuals, tell an engaging story
Make a deep emotional connection with customers with visual storytelling. Use less text, and more images, video, and social media. Reach out to customers on platforms where they spend the most time.
- Emphasize connection and community
Create opportunities for shoppers to share their experiences and connect with each other. Encourage engagement to spread the message. Invite them to send photos, use hashtags, or share a petition. Instead of focusing on customers as customers, focus on building a community of like minds.
- Get engaged in a cause and encourage social sharing
Many businesses are already engaged in social issues and charitable causes. Let your customers know what you’re doing and encourage micro-actions from your audience. For instance, donate a portion of summer proceeds to a local cause, or encourage user-generated content from your customer base to support an issue.
As with any marketing strategy, businesses will need to test variations of their approach and monitor engagement to see what’s working. A deep dive into campaign analytics will show what messaging and channels resonate best with your strongest customer advocates, and these can be replicated in future campaigns.
When done well and authentically, values-based marketing brings substantial business benefits. Even better, when customers and companies come together around shared values, they help change the world for the better.