What Do You Value? An Exercise in Appreciating the Importance of Consumer Values
Take a moment to think about your values. What principles, concepts or ideas are intrinsically important to you? If you’re like most U.S. consumers, values like loyalty, responsibility and authenticity may be at the top of your list. These are, in fact, the top-three values among total U.S. consumers in our 2019 Gartner Consumer Values and Lifestyle Survey:
- loyalty — I am an extremely loyal person when it comes to people, places, institutions and things that I respect and value.
- responsibility — I always take responsibility and accountability for my actions.
- authenticity — Being genuine and authentic is extremely important for me and for the things and people in my life.
As you think about your own values, you can start to see how those values shape your behavior and decisions. I’ll pick the value of responsibility and its importance in my own life. I want to uphold the value of responsibility in my behaviors. I pay bills on time, show up for work and meetings, and keep engagements with friends and family. I am motivated to surround myself with services, products and tools that can help me achieve responsibility (or at the very least help me appear to be responsible). For example, I just purchased a 2020 planner to help keep my responsibilities straight and ensure I honor my commitments. Think about a recent purchase or brand interaction in your life. Which values came into play?
An understanding of the value I place on responsibility helps to explain the “why” behind my behaviors and decisions. Many data sources help to analyze the “what” of your customers. What sites have they visited? What products have they purchased? But these sources often lack the “why.”
Consumer values, and the “why” they provide, help us make sense of a world that seems to be changing at the speed of light. When marketers uncover values that are core to the customers they serve, they can position products in the marketplace, create resonant messages and invent new products tailored to wants and needs. All strategic brand activity can revolve around the understanding of these consumer values.
The “U.S. Top Trends 2020: Values Backdrop” (Gartner subscription required) is a good place for clients to get started on the values journey. It details the top values across all U.S. consumers as well as key value shifts over our 10 years of data to create a picture of how U.S. culture is changing.
The next step is to dig into differentiated values of subsegments of the population for an understanding of how one consumer cohort compares to others. Differentiated values, or values that are ranked higher for one segment relative to another, identify how underlying motivations and needs differ for specific groups of consumers. For instance, what values do Millennials hold dear relative to the rest of the population? Or, what values are uniquely important to parents? The “Research Index: Consumer Values Findings, 2020” (Gartner subscription required) provides a portrait of consumer value priorities across key consumer groups.
Finding the “why” behind the “what” is sure to illuminate multiple marketing opportunities for the road ahead.