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Study: Brands Values & Beliefs Increasingly Influencing Consumer Purchasing

The global study from Accenture Strategy provided data and tips for building stronger consumer connections and sustaining competitiveness by becoming purpose-led.

For today’s consumer, it’s not just a company’s products and pricing that matter – it’s the brand’s values and beliefs. That’s according to a new worldwide study, which found nearly two-thirds (63%) prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects the consumer’s personal values and beliefs.

Similarly, the 14th annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research – ‘From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand‘ – revealed that 62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts. Another 62% say their purchasing consideration is driven by a company’s ethical values and authenticity.

“Purpose is more than companies simply responding to issues of the day. It’s about having a genuine and meaningful commitment to important principles that consumers care about – such as health and wellbeing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and family connections – which inform every business decision,” said Bill Theofilou, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy (pictured on the left). “Many companies have neglected to convey purpose due to complacency, lethargy or the fear of polarizing people, which has allowed smaller players to rise.”

Accenture Strategy is a global professional services company that says it partners with about 75% of the Fortune Global 500. Released Wednesday, the firm’s Consumer Pulse study involved surveying nearly 30,000 consumers from 35 countries, including the United States, to measure their expectations of brands and companies. The study found companies that stand for something bigger than what they sell, communicate their purpose and demonstrate commitment are more likely to attract consumers and influence purchasing decisions, which improves competitiveness.

Additional key findings included: Consumers prefer companies that use good quality ingredients (76%), treat employees well (65%) and believe in reducing plastics and improving the environment (62%). Furthermore, when companies fall short, consumers are quick to ditch them. Nearly half (47%) have boycotted a company as a result of their actions. Two-thirds of consumers believe their protest actions – such as boycotting or speaking out on social media – can change how companies behave. Also, purpose, sincerity and ethical behavior matter especially to younger consumers. Approximately 60% of Gen Zers and millennials believe it’s important for companies to speak up on issues like human rights, race relations or LGBT equality.

As part of the research, Accenture provided strategies brands and companies can use to build stronger consumer connections and sustain their competitiveness by becoming purpose-led. They are:

Define what your business stands for: “Companies need to determine the larger role they want to play in their customers’ lives and put a stake in the ground,” Accenture says. “Leaders can do that by understanding what their customers feel passionately about, why their employees choose to work for them, and why other businesses partner with them. They’ll find what makes the company special and can use it to make a difference.”

Be clear and authentic: “Consumers can see through inauthenticity,” says Accenture. “If a company is truly committed to its purpose, its principles guide every business decision. This purpose will bind consumers, employees and shareholders alike. It requires bold leadership where actions speak louder than words.”

Engage consumers on a deeper level: “With consumers actively aligning themselves with specific companies and having a stake in their success, businesses can capitalize on this energy by getting customers involved in co-creating new products and services, designing initiatives or partnerships, and investing in the company’s growth in exchange for personalized rewards,” says Accenture. “Including customers in their innovation ecosystem will help companies maintain their relevance, identify new growth opportunities and markets, and keep them on track with delivering on their promises.”