The Rising Importance Of Brand Values

Political polarization, voter tribalism and recent, fervent social movements like #grabyourwallet, #MeToo, and #TimesUp have changed the face of brand engagement and consumer loyalty in virtually every brand sector this year. 

Our 23rd annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index has identified new consumer values that have combined to create unprecedented shifts that “define” how consumers view categories, compare brands and options within particular categories, and how they will buy, buy again, and remain loyal to a brand. 

The shift in values has resulted in brand leadership changes (and same-store sales and profitability figures) in 60% of the 84 B2C and B2B categories tracked, which includes 761 brands, evaluated by 50,527 U.S. consumers. 

These leadership adjustments are startling in-and-of-themselves, but the fact that brands haven’t had to deal with this kind of political polarization or social turmoil at the same time is truly noteworthy for marketers. 



From a behavioral perspective, “brand engagement” is best defined by how well a brand is viewed by consumers as meeting their expectations for the values that drive purchase behavior in a given category. 

In 2018, the top five brand sectors that showed the largest, overall shifts in category values and path-to-purchase dynamics were:

1. Instant Messaging

2. Retail

3. Broadcast and Cable News

4. Financial Services

5. Social Networking

The top five sectors reacting most to political tribalism values were:

1. Broadcast and Cable News

2. Financial Services

3. Banks / Credit Cards

4. Automotive

5. Hotels (luxury)

The top five sectors reacting most to values associated with social activism were:

1. Retail (all sectors)

2. Restaurants (all sectors)

3. Social Networking

4. Smartphones

5. Consumer Packaged Goods

2 comments about "The Rising Importance Of Brand Values".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, July 12, 2018 at 8:38 p.m.

    Robert, thanks for the data but what's the takeaway(s) for marketers?

  2. Robert Passikoff from Brand Keys, Inc., July 13, 2018 at 8:04 a.m.

    Marketers will need to be able to accurately identify what values are most important to their consumers and determine how those values will be best expressed within the context of their particular category. These will have to come from the consumers’ own points-of-view, and not from marketer preconceptions or assumed definitions.

     As those consumer views have become more emotionally-driven over the past decade, the addition of tribal political and activist values have transformed the brand space into something marketers haven’t faced before. If marketers think they knew what values were important to consumers before, they are going to need to take a very hard look, very quickly at themselves and their brand, because as of now, it’s extraordinarily likely that consumers have an entirely new-view of what’s ideal for them.

    The new, value-based bottom line: Consumers are only going to buy from brands that can deliver the values they truly expect. A brand that fails to do that will find themselves facing a consumer backlash.

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