The values straw man fallacy

By now you’ve seen the stats about consumers who want brands to help change the world and will spend more to empower the action. We’ve got our version of that research at Vrity. It goes like this – 74% of people want brands to make the world a better place. Want a bigger number? 82% say they have paid more for a product that they know supports a cause they care in. 

And for every version of that data there’s a counter argument that suggests that the scale and supremacy of  Amazon is proof that no one really lives their values with their wallet. 

That “What about” straw man ignores two incredibly important points. First, not every category and product is change values oriented. Do I need my toilet paper to change the world? Honestly, it’s not my number one (or two) concern. 

Second, not every person is motivated by the same values. Will I spend more for an organic peanut butter over the private label jar? No, because that’s not the cause that personally moves me. I have no enemy against sustainability but if I’m going to pay a premium it’s going to be for a brand that supports something more meaningful to me. 

Would I pay more for a pint of ice cream advocating for social justice and equality? Yep. Would I select products from a brand associated with cancer research because it might spare someone else from losing their father to the disease? Been there, bought that. 

Anyone who believes that values are only found in surveys and don’t actually result in purchase decisions always leave out the brands that have used values to climb to the top of their category: Dove, Chick-fil-A, Southwest Airlines or Nike.

Everyone has different values. Even our own application of values can vary. The brands that build values equity will do so knowing that “What about” arguments miss the point of remaining true to your own brand values and living those regardless of the outside doubts.