Value Is Still a Driver in Purchase Decisions: 3 Strategies for Connecting with Post-Pandemic Consumers
Consumer preferences have changed drastically since the Covid-19 pandemic, led by the twin culprits of convenience and availability. The unprecedented act of quarantining, temporarily confining ourselves to our homes for weeks on end, didn’t stop people from shopping. Quite the contrary. We still demanded what we wanted when we wanted it. And many frequented businesses that were able to deliver on both fronts at the click of a button or swipe of an app.
Call it the Amazon (or Instacart) Effect — but now, as we cautiously resume our pre-pandemic lifestyles, another factor is at play with purchase decisions, and it involves value.
But make no mistake, “value” now means more than just price. Although consumers still covet ways to cut costs, they may pay more for brands that they intrinsically feel are safer, nobler or more ethical. Brands that mirror their own social values, like using sustainable manufacturing practices or donating resources back into their communities.
According to the EY Future Consumer Index, which surveyed 14,500 individuals in 20 countries from the start of the pandemic to 2021, 17% of U.S. consumers identify as “Planet First” and another 17% identify as “Society First.”
The consumer’s perception of value has become linked to individuals’ core beliefs. These days if a brand can convey how it contributes to the greater good, convenience and availability often become less urgent.
This is where brand messaging, consumer data and social media team up to boost brand relevancy and connect with your customer base. It’s also where transparency comes in handy. Talking about what your brand “believes” can help establish trust with consumers.
Keeping It Really Real
Though consumers still want brands to keep it real about costs of products and services, marketing must now demonstrate social value. Telling consumers to “trust you” just isn’t enough. Sharing the virtues they could reap from doing business with your brand helps excite the primal areas of the brain that drive many purchase decisions.
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that sparks pleasure in anticipation of a reward. It’s released when people want and seek out things they crave, according to science researcher Kent Berridge who discovered this pattern in rats in 1998. And it plays an important role in motivation, because people get hooked on those feelings of satisfaction after they acquire something of personal value.
This isn’t to say you should be dishonest in your marketing claims. But neuromarketing suggests relaying the social impact of your goods can be beneficial. Focus on consumers’ desire to feel they’re accomplishing an altruistic goal – like donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold or rounding a customer’s sale up to the next dollar to benefit a charity they choose. Tap into their hunger for social activism.
If you can excite their thirst for socially responsible clout, you may be able to persuade new consumers to buy from you — even when they’re unfamiliar with your offerings. Up to 61% of consumers say they became willing to consider a white label product over their favored brand during the pandemic, according to the EY Future Consumer Index.
So how do you reach this socially conscious audience? Here are three prongs of your social value strategy.
1. Get to know what your customers value.
Demographics and segmentation don’t tell you everything you need about your customer base. Getting to know your customers means also finding out what they want for their future, their children and their community. At the bottom of an online purchase order, ask customers if they’d like to add a small amount, $.10 to .$.50, to donate to a trusted charity. Or include a tracking link to a nonprofit post about a popular social cause, such as helping the polar bears, feeding needy children or supporting healthcare workers. Ideally, these causes should tangentially relate to your brand’s industry.
2. Develop a socially conscious mission statement.
Add value to your product or service by stoking emotion within your customer base. Brainstorm a few words or hashtag that convey your company is about more than just profits. Even something as simple as #DoBetter. Short inspiring phrases have a way of connecting with the socially active consumer’s primal brain, thereby instilling that feeling of trust and greater understanding of his or her needs.
Find a cause related to your brand, create a hashtag and leverage your social media to ask customers to take a selfie doing something small that’s related, like going barefoot, wearing purple or using a reusable thermos instead of a plastic cup. Then they can post their photos and tag themselves. Doing so simply improves brand engagement and interaction opportunities, increasing the chances of a conversion.
To demonstrate social value, you don’t have to reinvent your brand, you just need to add the right mix of messaging, data capturing and emotional engagement.
If you’d like to learn more about what KERN Agency can do for your brand, please let us know. We’d be more than happy to sit down to discuss your brand goals and arrive at a solution suited to your business.