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What is Values-Based Marketing?


Kevin Duong - July 29, 2019 - 0 comments

In today’s competitive landscape, it is increasingly difficult to attract the attention of consumers. So beyond marketing their core products and services, companies are attempting to develop longer, lasting relationships with their target markets. Enter values-based marketing.

Typically, companies would appeal the needs and wants that attract customers to their products and services. Now, they are looking to appeal more to their values, hence the name. Essentially, companies want to explicitly demonstrate that they are interested in the same issues, care about the same causes and share the same stances as their target audience.

Some values-based marketing specifically centres around a company’s products and services, while sometimes it’s just about sending a message to build brand awareness. The following examples will detail both.

Examples of Values-Based Marketing

Pride Month

Pride Month recently occurred in June, and a bevy of brands celebrated the occasion in various ways. In retail, American Eagle, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Express, Gap, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Nordstrom and Under Armour had Pride collections for purchase. And on a smaller scale, many other companies had special Pride edition items.

If you’re a regular user of social media, you’ll have undoubtedly seen the range of rainbow-inspired logos. Here’s a sample of those who showed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community by (temporarily) changing their logos:

(Graphic via techpost)

Nike + Colin Kaepernick

Perhaps the most memorable values-based marketing campaign in recent memory was Nike’s “Just Do It” anniversary campaign in September 2018. This featured former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

In case you’re not familiar with Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback infamously knelt for the national anthem before NFL games. He did this to protest social injustices such as police brutality and racial inequality. This drew incredible ire and ultimately led to him being blackballed from the NFL (he later settled a suit). Nike knew what it was doing when it decided to choose Kaepernick for this campaign. It sparked some severe opposition, with some customers calling for boycotts, while others even burned Nike merchandise to demonstrate their displeasure.

As you’ll learn later in this post, the campaign ended up being a success overall.

Why Values-Based Marketing is Important

It helps you build bonds with your customers

As companies place greater emphasis on building relationships with customers rather than just transacting with them, values-based marketing can become a competitive advantage. And as companies shift focus from funnels to customer journeys, the ability to build a bond with their target market can be fruitful.

(diagram via Harvard Business Review)

As the diagram illustrates, customers that enter the loyalty loop will likely have shortened journeys in the future, as they repurchase without considering competitors. And with loyalty at alarmingly low levels—only 13% of purchasers are considered loyalists according to McKinsey—the impetus is greater than ever for brands to build bonds amidst a hyper-competitive landscape.

And just as important, these loyalty loop customers become advocates for the product/service/brand, spawning a source of earned media. This is critical for a couple of reasons. First, a well-executed campaign can vault it to viral status (as in the case of Kaepernick and Nike). This can secure social attention that a traditional campaign would have a harder time achieving. Second, 63% of customers view their friends as their most trusted source for learning about a brand and their products. This, of course, can be beneficial to the bottom line. Which brings us to the next point…

It can help (or hurt) you (financially)

According to a 2017 Edelman Earned Brand study, 57% of people buy or boycott brands based on the brand’s position on political and social issues. Additionally, 25% of people would be willing to pay a premium for a brand that shares their values.

Let’s go back to our example above with Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Although some people claimed they would boycott the brand as a result of the campaign, the gains achieved from customers who identified with and appreciated the Nike campaign more than made up for these losses. For the fiscal quarter that corresponded with the campaign, Nike achieved a 10% jump in income, to $847 million.

(Graphic via today show)

From a values perspective, the boycotts could also be viewed as another win for Nike. By working with Kaepernick, they made their stance loud and clear. As such, the campaign and the corresponding boycotters just helped further disassociate the two parties that did not want any further connection with each other.

Some quick closing thoughts

Values-based marketing isn’t a strategy that will work for everyone. And creating a controversial campaign just for the sake of it would probably prove to be detrimental. Because if you’re not authentic, the audience will see right through that and it will render your campaign a failure. And besides, inauthenticity would go against the very essence of values-based marketing, wouldn’t it?

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