Today's customers are perhaps more value-driven than ever before. Customers want to do business with socially conscious companies; ones that reflect their values. While the values that matter most can vary from customer to customer, commonly discussed issues such as diversity and environmental consciousness can have a very real impact on whether someone decides to do business with you.
Though you may share many of your customers' values, you may feel at a loss as to how you can highlight the importance these have to you and your organization as a whole. But by doing so, you can make significant headway in gaining their trust and loyalty.
1. Walk the walk.
Brands' actions matter. A company can tout its diversity initiatives, but if its leadership remains fundamentally white and male, customers are going to view the business as hypocritical at best. When companies mistreat their workers or are caught in other unethical actions, no amount of talking is going to undo the damage.
Microsoft's recentlyannounced $68.7 billion acquisition of gaming company Activision Blizzard sheds light on just how damaging poor behavior can be. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has recently been under fire for allowing a culture of harassment to pervade his company, leading to protests and employee walkouts.
Many analysts believe that the scandal surrounding Kotick was part of what led to Microsoft being able to acquire the company in a cash deal. Unsurprisingly, some have also accused Microsoft of hypocrisy after its November statements that it would reevaluate its relationship with Activision Blizzard after news of the company's scandals became widespread.
Time will tell how things play out with Microsoft's acquisition. Still, thus far, its apparent desire to brush the accusations against Kotick under the rug aren't earning it high marks among customers.
2. Share messaging that focuses on everyday concerns.
Customer values don't always touch on hot-topic issues like sexism and racism in the workplace. Quite often, the values that matter most to customers are the things that directly impact them on a daily basis.
This became especially clear during a recent conversation with Danny Sit, CEO of NUU. With decades of experience in the electronics manufacturing industry, Sit has seen firsthand just how quickly smartphones and other electronic devices have become a central part of society. While this has certainly brought about many positives, the inherent cost of most of these devices can be a very real barrier for many.
To that end, Sit chose to focus on quality-driven, uncompromising goods with pricing that meets the demands of customers. This has since been a core part of the brand's messaging -- customers don't have to give up on quality when pursuing aggressive pricing. Consistent messaging around this value of financial responsibility has helped Sit's brand connect with customers on an issue they worry about every day.
3. Contribute to meaningful causes.
Of course, many customers want to see the brands they do business with contributing to larger causes. This way, they feel that when they make a purchase from the company, they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. They want brands to help them make a difference in the world.
It should come as no surprise, then, that an ever-increasing number of companies are investing in charitable initiatives and consistently updating customers on the work they are doing in these areas. These don't have to be large-scale initiatives that focus on politically charged issues, either. Small businesses can contribute to their local communities by donating time, money, or other resources to food banks, homeless shelters, or other local charities.
In addition to the brand's own messaging about these contributions, such actions often garner attention in the local press, which can deliver fantastic PR for the brand -- not that this should be the primary motivation for making charitable contributions.
Authentic actions with real impact can dramatically increase customer loyalty among those who support similar causes, or who simply appreciate the good work a business is doing in their community.
Seventy-one percent of customers feel it is important to buy from brands that share their values and beliefs -- and among Millennials, this is even higher, at 83 percent. What a company says and does comes under closer scrutiny than ever. By highlighting the ways that your brand aligns with the values of its customers, you can gain lasting loyalty in an increasingly competitive marketplace.