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90% Preaching to the choir: How to show you share your customers’ values

Published November 11, 2021

Today’s younger generations crave authenticity from value-centric brands. Embracing an “actions speak louder than words” mentality will help you attract these younger consumers, while pushing you to make your community (and potentially the world) a better place. 

If you run a successful business, you know what your customers care about. But do your customers know that you know? When your customer sees, thinks or hears about your brand, they should feel a sense of reciprocity when it comes to shared values. If you can adequately communicate your shared, value-driven passions with your customers, you can help build a better future, and you’ll build loyal customers while you’re at it!

Take a stand on important issues

Taking a stand on important issues will make your customers feel proud to support you and elevate your voice. According to an Aflac CSR survey, 70 percent of customers and investors believe companies should use their resources to make the world a better place and 77 percent are motivated to purchase. The ramifications of failing to properly support an issue, and thus disappointing your audience, results in about 48 percent of people leaving a complaint on social media

The social and political climate can play a role in the pressure that businesses face from consumers. During the #BlackLivesMatter movement, 69 percent of survey respondents ages 16–34 felt brands should be involved in the BLM movement. These opinions don’t just affect how they view the brand itself. It also affects their purchasing and boycotting decisions. An Edelman survey showed that 60 percent of the US population considers a brand’s response to racial injustice when making buying decisions.

Ice cream, you scream, we all scream to end racial injustice

You might think that ice cream and fighting against racial injustice don’t go together. But actually, for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, it does. Ben & Jerry’s has made it its mission to support the BLM movement and actively work to solve racial injustice. The ice cream chain decided to use its power and influence to take a stand on social media by clearly stating its position, educating and offering solutions. 

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Matthew McCarthy, Ben & Jerry’s CEO, stated that the company has seen growth due to its social activism. They have even “launched issue-oriented ice cream flavors like Pecan Resist, a nod to Black Lives Matter, and Change the Whirled, with NFL quarterback and racial justice advocate Colin Kaepernick.” Their consumers, which McCarthy refers to as “fans,” are very supportive of their vocal style and the efforts they have made to take a stand against racial injustice. He states, “Some of them buy more ice cream as a result. They don’t have to. That’s why we call them fans, not consumers.”

Gear your marketing to what’s important to them

If you’re hoping to attract the attention of younger consumers, like millennials and Gen Zers, focus your marketing efforts on product pricing, convenience, availability and choice. Not only will you be catering to their customer needs, you’ll be reeling in the right customers. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, an individualized experience with a speedy checkout process, easy returns and cashless self-service are key Gen Z customer values.

Adopt a nimble, innovative tech mindset

Gen Zers are attracted to brands that are consistently evolving in ways that remove friction and enhance the customer experience. Communicate product, web and app updates in your marketing to get this audience excited and engaged with your brand. Your brand should adjust to new trends, economics and cultural factors to effectively and efficiently engage your consumers. 

Chipotle is a great example of a nimble and innovative brand that gears its marketing towards what’s important to its customers. The company provides customers with a user-friendly app and includes phrases like “Friends for Life” and “Obvs” in their marketing messaging in order to fit in with the lingo that its customer base uses. To further improve its marketing and sales efforts, Chipotle displays information that communicates it cares for the health and wellness of its customers. For example, its website includes helpful nutrition facts and multiple FAQ pages.  

Chipotle also does an excellent job of engaging its customers on social media with content that is both trending and speaks to its audience’s interests. Chipotle’s TikTok account spotlights influencers like “Garden Marcus,” who composts his paper Chipotle bowl. This type of content aligns with both Chipotle’s values and those of its audience. 

Related: How Chipotle combines customer and digital engagement strategies to reach new revenue heights

Individualize their Experience

Young consumers expect companies to provide tailored marketing in which their data and choices affect the customization of the marketing experience. Your brand can use surveys and landing page data to gather information on your customers and deliver the appropriate marketing strategy. This includes highlighting your rewards program, sales and a consistently wide assortment of product options. 

Chipotle offers a rewards program that adds value. As a rewards member, you can choose to cash in your points toward a free meal, Chipotle swag items or a cause you care about. The unique option to donate points to charity resonates with its customers and hits on yet another value: charitable giving. 

Finally, Chipotle’s website includes an easy way to contact support AND has the option to “make a suggestion.” Having an online suggestion box like this can empower your customers to create and collaborate with you, yet another important value for young consumers today.

Don’t send mixed messages

Maintaining transparency and consistency about your brand’s message is key to showing your customers you share their values. According to Deloitte’s Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z survey, “seven in 10 millennials feel that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering the wider society.” Customers want to see you take corporate social responsibility. In fact, about half of online consumers in the US and UK would even pay a premium to support a brand that exhibited a socially conscious image.  

Consumers make money decisions based on factors like sustainability and environmental treatment, personal data protection and social and political issues. Deloitte’s survey found that as of 2021, 28 percent of respondents started or deepened a customer-business relationship with brands whose products or services positively impacted the environment. About the same number of respondents ceased or reduced their relationship with brands that harmed the planet.

Use data & storytelling to present real-world impact

It isn’t enough to make promises about positive societal change to your customers. You have to follow through and then share how your efforts have made a real-world impact through data. By representing your data in an easily digestible manner, you’ll appear more authentic and gain the trust of your customers.  

From its inception, Patagonia has always been at the forefront of businesses that embrace environmental protection and sustainability. Rather than leading with sales and products, Patagonia’s web home page features storytelling surrounding its mission and highlighting important community stories. The company dives into its personal impact on the planet through its “Footprint” landing page. Patagonia’s loyal customers share a love for the outdoors and continue to support the brand thanks to the efforts it puts into protecting the environment.

Be readily available to your customers

Younger generations value great customer service and possess a low tolerance for bad customer experience: 50 percent of millennials and Gen Zers will switch to a competitor after even just one bad customer experience, and 80 percent will switch after multiple bad experiences. By using a format that provides instant gratification and rapid solutions, like instant messaging services, businesses saw a surge in millennial and Gen Z support requests. About 35 percent used it for the first time, more than any other channel that had first-time usage. 

Your efforts to resolve customer issues, answer questions and generally be available for customer needs will speak volumes to your customers. Not only will you meet customer expectations for great service, but you will also gain the respect of your customers as a brand that embraces the value of excellent customer service.

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