What’s your brand stand for and why does it matter?

Next-gen customers care. That’s why.  

If you think all the talk about brand values is just a bunch of phooey by branding and advertising agencies, think again. Increasingly, consumers care about corporate brand ethics and values. Millennials, in particular, want to know what brands stand for because they consider the brands they purchase an extension of themselves. Aligning your values with theirs can motivate purchase and loyalty.

Consider these stats. A 2019 study by Mintel found that nearly 60% of all Millennials indicate they care if brands or companies represent their personal values. And 56% of Millennials agree “the brands I use reinforce the image I want to portray,” vs. only 36% of Gen X and 26% of Boomers. Relative to other age cohorts, Millennials significantly over index for attributes like “making a difference” and “progressive ideas.”

And they expect the same of the brands they buy. According to 2017 Forrester data reported by Forbes, nearly seven in 10 US Millennials actively consider company values when making a purchase. That is worth repeating – nearly 70% of Millennials actively consider company values when making a purchase, compared with 52% of all US online adults. Older (read: more affluent) Millennials are particularly conscious of company values across product categories.

A Nielsen study showed that 73% of Millennial respondents were willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable or socially conscious brand, again at a significantly higher rate than older generations. Meanwhile, 81 percent of Millennials expect the brands that they buy into to be transparent in their marketing and actively talk about their sustainability impact.

All of this suggests that stating and living your brand values has real power with the consumer. If you’re still skeptical this approach works, consider Subaru. After decades of fledgling sales, the company launched their “Love” marketing campaign that focused on key passions of Subaru owners, from dogs to the environment. First introduced in 2008, the “Love” campaign became the umbrella for the brand’s advertising, promotions, partnerships, sponsorships, dealer and corporate websites and charity work. Advertising Age called the campaign “among the most recognizable and enduring marketing efforts in the automobile category.”

But enough with the accolades and ad industry hyperbole, what did it do for sales? According to multiple reports from Forbes to Automotive News, the company realized at least 8 consecutive years of record-breaking sales and 9 consecutive years of sales increases. And, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Millennials purchased the Crosstrek and Impreza models in record numbers according to 2018 sales figures.  

Michael McHale, Director, Corporate Communications for Subaru of America, summed up the role of brand values on consumer behavior in a 2017 Forbes article saying, “Our customers expect us to do good things in the community and they look for brands they can align with who have similar values.”

So, how is your brand aligning with the values of your next gen customers? If you don’t have a creative brand strategy that is built around these customers and your shared values, you better start. All the lead generation campaigns in the world won’t make a difference if your brand doesn’t connect. Today’s consumer needs to see how what you stand for and what you offer is part of their ethos. Never has this been truer than with this next generation of affluent consumers.

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