Act with integrity. Take responsibility. Seek excellence. Innovate. The list goes on. These phrases are often compiled and displayed proudly on an organization’s wall or highlighted on its website as the core values by which it operates. While aspirational and motivational-sounding in nature, these phrases are meaningless when they aren’t backed by action. And cookie-cutter values won’t help businesses get ahead in a competitive landscape.
GfK, a global leader in data analytics and consumer behavior insights, has been tracking consumer values in 30 markets around the globe for a quarter of a century. Its research finds that, by working to build deeper emotional connections, values guide principles beyond demographics. They ground innovation at a deeper level and help organizations strengthen their messaging.
“More than motivation to hang on the office wall, values are an organization’s superpower – when leveraged effectively.”
“Even more, values are key to differentiation and portfolio management,” says Morten Boyer, Managing Director at GfK Australia and New Zealand. “Values have the power to set a company apart from its competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. More than motivation to hang on the office wall, values are an organization’s superpower – when leveraged effectively.”
From interacting with global partners to knowing customers better and nailing an innovative corporate culture, values hold the key to any organization’s success. And the reason is simple: values are the cornerstone that drives influence.
What are values?
Values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide an organization’s actions, serving as its cultural cornerstones. Held sacred, they must never be compromised for convenience or short-term economic gain.
The value potential
For corporate values to hold meaning, they must be consistently put into practice and not just dictated from the top. Organizations must ‘walk their talk’ day in, day out. These values are a representation of their people, products, services and culture. They unify, give life and bring meaning to the work an organization was created to accomplish. And when values are shared, asserted, respected and appreciated throughout the company, a multitude of benefits arise.
“Many organizations struggle with understanding the deep, implicit values held by their employees, consumers and partners,” Boyer explains. “These values have the power to build stronger emotional connections. Looking at both the explicit and implicit forces of choices is paramount when building strategy. They help uncover opportunity, especially in an uncertain business landscape.”
According to recent research, employees are 115 percent more engaged when their organization has a well-defined set of company values. Values create a strong and steadfast foundation when employees crave stability during hardship. Like a north star, values provide a trusted way forward, equipping employees with the courage and persistence to carry on.
Unleashing the power of values
The alignment of values is a recipe for success in business relationships. When it comes to partnerships, for example, values have the power to transform a vendor into a trusted partner by building an aligned relationship based on meaning and mutual respect. Trusted partnerships benefit everyone – businesses, customers and team members.
“When core values are shared, partnerships will thrive over time, enabling sustainable success.”
“Strengthening ties between businesses fosters collaboration,” says Boyer. “This, in turn, enables companies to offer services and solutions that help their customers live better lives. When core values are shared, partnerships will thrive over time, enabling sustainable success. ”
It’s well known that customers are increasingly choosing to do business with brands that share their personal values and make a difference in the world. They turn to brands they feel are realizing positive social outcomes. In fact, according to GfK research, more than half (63 percent) of consumers say they only buy products and services that appeal to their beliefs, values or ideals.
“When you create meaningful connections with customers by positioning your organization in a way that aligns with what they care about most, it’s easier to drive brand loyalty,” Boyer says. “Imagine understanding people’s deepest beliefs and truly getting to know what they hold closest to their hearts.
“You could develop products and features that meet their needs at a deeper level. You could position your organization in a way that resonates and builds a stronger connection, driving loyalty on a whole new level. Even more, you could differentiate your company from the competition.”
Employees also benefit from shared values alignment. In fact, now more than ever, job seekers are placing a greater emphasis on a company’s values when choosing where to work. And organizations retain talent in much the same way.
Deep, meaningful alignments often result in significant positive outcomes for all. According to a Porter Novelli report, 69 percent of people say they won’t work for a company that doesn’t have a strong purpose. And 60 percent say they’d be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that does.
The roadmap to driving better business outcomes
Research indicates that there is massive ROI in investing in data and analytics that support decision-making on managing risks and leveraging opportunities. According to Forrester, high-growth B2B businesses invest in brand when facing economic uncertainty, especially in brand purpose, in times of climate change, a pandemic, social injustice and economic threats.
Taking cues from the financial services sector, which is a mature industry in terms of data and analytics, getting one or two decisions right on how to hedge risk or embrace an opportunity early on could pay for many years of data analytics subscriptions to come. Isolating relevant signals from the data noise and closing the insight-to-action gap requires vision and collaboration across organizations – as well as high-velocity information that is essential to decision-making.
“Organizations can have all the data in the world, but it takes people to interpret the stories from the data and bring about creative differentiation to drive informed decision-making and business outcomes,” Boyer says. “This requires balancing human intuition and data intellect, enabled by technology and quality data.”
“Given the amount of noise across channels, it’s critical for organizations to re-evaluate data signals with an eye on getting to know their customers better, improving the customer experience through personalization and innovating the next winning product and service.
“Having access to real-time data and the right tools further allows organizations to take action in a customer’s moment of need or make predictions about future outcomes with the mindset that these efforts are continuous works in progress.”
Organizations across the globe can find opportunity in understanding and using values as foundations for their brand strategy. When mountains of data leave them feeling overwhelmed, devising a roadmap for improvement that balances human intuition with data intellect is an effective way to drive better business outcomes.
The 5 main consumer segments and their corresponding key values, according to GfK:
Discoverers: Freedom, creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, learning, knowledge, social tolerance, equality, internationalism
Indulgers: Enjoying life, leisure, pleasure, material security
Elementals: Helpfulness, modesty, thrift, simplicity, respecting ancestors
Mindfuls: Spirituality, working hard
Aspirers: Social recognition, status