Why 2017 will herald a resurgence of values-based marketing

Jacqueline Burns

Jacqueline (Jaci) Burns is a B2B marketing steward and strategist who specialises in services, solutions and intangible products. Her agency, Market Expertise, provides the full suite of marketing services to businesses in the technology, professional and financial services, and knowledge sectors. Jaci is an established columnist and freelance contributor who writes about marketing, technology and management issues.

Content marketers love listicles. List-style content is easy to produce and, because it’s quantifiably succinct, builds traffic and engagement.

Being still early in the calendar year, our newsfeeds continue to be heavily peppered with listicle predictions for 2017.

It doesn’t take long for the predictions to themselves become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity…

The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.

Let me explain.

Every serious brand will have been created around a set of brand values. Those values help define the brand’s personality, proposition and purpose. Without values, brands are bland. So, too, does every serious business claim to have at its foundation a set or organisational values. They’re the tenets that define a company’s culture and conduct.

Until recently, values have mostly been relegated to the background. They’re referenced during induction and are given air time at occasional internal briefings but little more.

What’s changed is the political climate. Now, particularly given the state of affairs in the United States, brand and organizational values are being threatened. And as a consequence, values-based marketing is morphing into both a corporate responsibility and a CEO conundrum.

The heart of the matter

At its heart, values-based marketing is all about appealing to a customer’s values and ethics.

There’s always been a commercial pay-off from building a values-based brand, business or campaign. To quote Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”

Values-based marketing is about ‘owning’ an issue – for example, as Jessica Alba has done (despite some controversy) with The Honesty Company and its commitment to ethical consumerism and eco-friendly household goods.

It’s opportunistically aligning with a cause as Audi attempted to do with its gender equality campaign. Unfortunately, the gender equity-themed advertisement Audi aired during the 2017 Super Bowl exposed the company to ridicule by drawing attention to Audi’s own poor record of promoting women to leadership positions.

And it’s taking a public stance when an elected official issues an immoral, discriminatory or illegal edict.

Actions speak louder than words

According to research of the FTSE100 by UK agency, The Clearing, and of the S&P 500 by Chicago University, most brands and businesses more or less have the same generic set of values. Those values include integrity, respect, diversity and inclusion.

But how many of the brands and businesses we most admire actually lead by example? In the Trump-era, the number is growing rapidly.

Some industries, such as tech and biotech, are harnessing their collective influence; voicing united opposition to Trump’s travel ban because it will impact their ability to access and retain top talent, and restrict global competitiveness. Other big businesses including Ford, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, GE and Telsa have also spoken out about the immigration ban for similar reasons.

Nike and Starbucks have each issued moving open letters to their employees, explaining why they condemn the ban.

Even small businesses, such as a New York-based electronics startup, Little Bits, are electing to make their own poignant, independent statements of dissent.

Values-based marketing can come at a cost. Not engaging in values-based marketing could have even more dire consequences. By keeping silent, companies and brands are, in effect, making a mockery of their stated values, and revealing their true brand essence. And that will be heard loud and clear by their stakeholders.

Tags: brand strategy

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2019

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Blog Posts

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

It's a pretty interesting article to read. I will learn more about this company later.

Dan Bullock

40 staff and 1000 contracts affected as foodora closes its Australian operations

Read more

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in