We are who we are, forming our basic value system early in life, according to David Allison, founder of The Valuegraphics Database. His company recently launched a seminal study of how our value systems are impacting our reactions to the pandemic -- and, in understanding them, find ways to leverage shared values from very disparate groups to move forward.
Charlene Weisler: Please give me a short overview of the methodology, sampling etc.
David Allison: The values we uncover for a target audience come from our benchmark database of 500,000 surveys and 446 metrics, which is accurate (+/- 3.5%/95% confidence) for 180 countries. It's the world's first database of what everyone cares about. For the pandemic recovery study in particular (as with all the data we pull from the benchmark dataset for any client or question) we identify a statistical representation of a particular population and ask them enough questions for us to extrapolate a profile from the benchmark study.
Weisler: Can you trend this study? Will it be continued after the pandemic?
Allison: The study results will not need to be updated. We measure core human values, which are formed during our late childhood/early adolescence, and do not change. Our lives are ruled by what we value: every behavior and emotion we have is a manifestation of some value or set of values. So, understanding the shared values of a target audience (there are only 56 possible values) is akin to having the OS for that group of people. You can unlock incredible passion and power because you know what they care about most.
Weisler: What were the biggest takeaways?
Allison: There are so many. They break into three main categories of findings:
1. Rallying the troops: We were able to identify what aspects of life people want to see recover from the pandemic -- industry sectors, community amenities, and more.
We know what the people who are passionate about professional sports teams care about most, for example, so one could solidify that base by talking to them about what they want to hear. We can do the same for tourism, small shops, restaurants, art galleries, etc.
Why is this useful? If you are trying to drum up grassroots support for, let's say, the hotel industry...what messages will land best with your supporters, and how can you win others to your cause? As grants, loans, tax abatements and policies are being structured to drive economic growth, the sectors with the most supporters will have the most sway over the decision-makers.
2. Taking advantage of new consumer demands: We were able to identify the new pandemically triggered behaviors that people found they actually enjoyed, and want to keep doing. Each of these (there are four big ones and a few less important ones) represents a new market opportunity for brands to create products and services to satisfy. Further, we know what each segment of consumers values most, so it's easy to see what you'd need to say and do to engage and influence their behavior.
3. Motivating action to save the planet: We identified a segment of the population that was willing to keep up some pandemic behaviors that they found inconvenient as long as they knew those efforts would benefit the planet. In other words, we identified the most likely to take action to help with the environmental crises. And, of course, we can point to what they want to hear -- what they are listening for -- because we know what they value most of all.
Weisler: How did responses break out by gender, region of the country, age, ethnicity, etc?
Allison: This gets to the crux of Valuegraphics. Demographics are a legacy method of understanding groups of people. Our benchmark study proves conclusively that except for external characteristics, demographic cohorts do not resemble each other in any appreciable way. For example, let's look at age.
[We have charts] that show how much the people within any age category agree with each other about anything we have measured, including our 56 core human values that determine every behavior and emotion. We have 380 OTHER metrics too (for a total of 436)… The alignment on ANY of these is incredibly low. It's a bit of a cliche, but it's true: Nobody acts their age anymore. It's time we stopped using demographic stereotypes to look at the world around us.
It's a bit of a mind-expanding construct the first time anyone encounters Valuegraphics, as it challenges thousands of years of demographic profiling. Demographics as a sortation system are from the olden days….and abandoning the idea that demographics are destiny is the last great disruption required for us to truly move past the stereotypes that cause so much divisiveness and hurt in our world today. Especially now that we have a global database that proves how inefficient they are. Demographics push us apart. Valuegraphics unite us.
Weisler: How do you think these attitudes will play out a year from today? Two years from today?
Allison: They will be exactly the same. We have before/after studies in a few industries that prove this. Our values are forever.