Want to drive sales? Deliver on your values

Consumers want companies to be values-driven, that has been made overwhelmingly clear in research study after research study, including our own. What is not clear is how values compare to other purchase factors. Would a consumer buy a values-driven brand over a cheaper product?

To investigate the exchange rate between brand attributes, we conducted a survey experiment. We asked 1,000 US consumers to rate 15 consumer brands on a scale of 1-5 across the following categories: price, product quality, customer experience, and values alignment (i.e. “How well does this brand align with your personal values?”). Then, we asked each consumer how much they have spent on each of the 15 brands over the past 30 days. 

With these results, we were able to analyze how the attributes of each brand correlate with spending habits. Do consumers spend more with brands with great prices? How much is values-alignment worth as compared with other brand attributes?

The numbers were overwhelming. Values correlated better with spend than any other attribute.

Looking at a regression analysis, with each attribute category predicting the spend amount, coefficients emerge which show how much one point of each category is worth, on average. The coefficient for the values attribute was $10.13, meaning that increasing by one point on a five-point scale is worth $10 per customer, per month. 

This result already implies an outstanding ROI for values marketing, but even more interesting is how it compares to the other categories. The coefficients for quality ($5.85), customer experience ($5.11), and price ($4.05) show about half the impact as values. 

What this all means is that values ring the register. If a brand manager could choose between increasing brand perception in any category, choosing values would have the biggest financial impact on purchase behavior. 

So why are so many ads still focused on prices and discounts? It all comes back to data. What gets measured gets managed. It is easy to tie coupons to purchase, so coupons get attention. When brands measure values, then they understand how important values are driving consumer behavior.