Activism Influences Purchases Very Differently Across Product Categories
In today’s revolutionary social climate, a growing segment of consumers is deciding which brands deserve their dollars based on the values they demonstrate as a company. Connecting authentically with these consumer activists is vital for brands, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic and fight against racial inequality prompt shoppers to carefully consider the impact their dollars have on the economy and the world around them.
That said, do those in the market for a new car or new beauty products care as much about a brand’s value alignment as those looking to switch banks? Recent research by Resonate explored the motivations and values that drive consumer activists, particularly as it relates to purchases within the automotive, health and beauty, and banking categories. We asked consumers in our National Consumer Study what they plan to purchase in the next 12 months, then we analyzed how much certain purchase intenders from various categories care when it comes to brand-value alignment. Here’s what we found.
Activist auto shoppers are 52% more likely than the average consumer to feel guilty about their environmental impact and 25% more likely to criticize companies that they feel aren’t doing enough for the environment. They believe that donating money, giving incentives for green business, and buying from green companies are the best ways to help the environment.
Auto companies looking to lure prospective buyers through dealership doors should consider their passion for going green when crafting messaging, content, creative, and offers. Inform consumers about the new environmentally friendly products that your product development team is working on, such as increasing the engine’s gas mileage or your plan to develop electric-only cars. Your customer experience team might want to ask for feedback from prospective and current customers about how you can minimize your environmental impact, and then work to incorporate their suggestions. By tapping into the green issues auto shoppers are passionate about, you’ll not only win their business, but earn their trust, which is critical for auto brands to succeed.
Health and Beauty
Interestingly, consumers in the market for health and beauty products are not as concerned with brands taking a stand on social issues. They’re less likely to pay more based on important issues, and it’s not a dealbreaker if the company they’re buying from doesn’t donate to charity or listen to the public. In fact, only 9% say they’d pay more based on an important issue, and only 7% say they’d participate in a company’s societal program.
Rather than being issues-driven, consumers in the market for health and beauty products care about companies providing safe products. Focus on highlighting the ingredients your brand uses that are safe and healthy, since that aligns more closely with their values and shopping preferences, rather than putting effort into a campaign about a current social issue that may be seen as inauthentic. Consider including videos of how your products are made on your website or invite prospective and current customers to your store for a special event once you re-open, where they can see the products being made in person.
Today's activist bank shoppers are an astounding 310% more likely than the average U.S. consumer to be highly engaged with advocacy issues, and their top charitable issues are poverty, animal rights, and childhood obesity. They’re 85% more likely to prefer companies that listen to the public, and they’re 72% more likely to prefer companies that donate to charity.
Banks looking to retain fleeing account holders would likely benefit from taking a stand on a social issue that matters to this subset of consumers. These are people who’ve declared they’re planning on switching banks soon, so aligning a bank’s values with customers’ values is an effective way to retain them. It gives them a reason to invest in the bank’s business that goes beyond dollar signs. Consider donating a specific amount of money to a charity they care about when a customer takes a specific action, such as opening a new account or downloading your app.
Being a purpose-led brand is not a fad. Your organization must have a deep understanding of your own beliefs, as well as your audience’s values, psychological drivers, and preferred forms of expression, before taking a stand on a social or political issue. If you take a stand simply because other companies are doing so or because you want to jump on the latest trending hashtag on Twitter, it will feel inauthentic to your audience, and you could lose them as customers to your competitor. As your brand looks to connect with consumer activists, above all, make sure you’re being true to your brand and corporate values.