In the world of advertising, marketing and communication, values-based research has never been, well, more valuable.
Values are what drive people to make the decisions they make, from buying a car or voting for a politician. More and more we see the importance research plays in aligning brands and organizations with a specific target audience’s values, and motivating benefits they desire, in order to break through in an increasingly crowded information environment. With more access to technologies, platforms and data, we are able to understand how a brand or an issue is perceived across the various phases of the customer or audience journey. Reaching and tapping into deeply-held individual and societal values along the way will yield the greatest success.
Domestically, we see the importance of values among Millennials. Their growing purchasing power and presence in the workforce make them a highly coveted audience. Understanding and reaching them has been the subject of many studies. One of the main findings is that this generation more closely associates individual, societal, and brand values to their purchasing and professional journey decisions. Advertisers and employers should both take note.
Another area where the values discussion is playing out is in the presidential campaign. Once again, most of the Republican candidates are trying to be the torchbearer of Ronald Reagan’s values. One value commonly associated with President Reagan was security and one of my favorite ads from the 1984 campaign addresses that core value without mentioning it. The ad is almost as relevant today as it was then. If you haven’t seen the “Bear in the Woods” ad recently (or ever if you’re a Millennial) then you really should. It is timeless.
Clearly values are not just for Republicans. A recent report from Purple America shows that, over the past two presidential elections, the candidate that most often communicates values has scored highest on their Values Meter and has won the past two elections. Hillary Clinton currently tops the values meter. Republicans take note.
Internationally, the battle of values is being waged across the Middle East. ISIS’ messaging has proven very difficult for the U.S. government and our allies to counter. Despite our efforts over the past two years, new recruits keep coming. Their messages and propaganda are tapping into a values system that resonates with particularly vulnerable young recruits who are young and looking for ways to “define their lives.” Countering with facts and stories alone will not tap into these deeper values.
Almost every marketer is looking for that breakout campaign. The viral video that is going to create a powerful new market entry or one that is going to reconnect and strengthen a brand. Those that succeed strike a chord. We feel that the best way to find that chord is through values-based research.