A new global study – The Value Shift Report – published by Hall & Partners, the strategic brand consultancy owned by Omnicom, reveals how the COVID-19 crisis, accompanied by global political and economic turmoil has forced consumers around the world to completely reassess and change many of their values.
The research, conducted among 20,000 consumers across 10 countries, identified 15 critical shifts in consumer values, giving rise to a new, more conscious consumer.
Values have shifted
Value Shift identifies several consumer trends including the reframing of safety, the call for new types of heroism, the resurgence of localness, and the increased desire for sustainability, social equality, and fairness.
As lockdown rules are lifted throughout the UK and non-essential retail, pubs and gyms re-open, many business leaders are asking how the global health crisis will continue to shape consumers’ spending habits and impact their mindset as shoppers return to the High Street in their droves.
According to the study, young people will define our values for decades to come. More than 70% of 18–34-year-olds said they are now trying new things and interacting with the world in different ways, compared to 54% of 45+ year-olds.
Vanella Jackson, Global CEO of Hall & Partners, said: “The future is being shaped before our eyes, sparked not just by a global COVID-19 health crisis, but by political dislocation, economic and environmental disruption and urgent demands for greater justice and equality.
“Inevitably this is having an impact on consumers, how they see the world, what they value and what is important to them.
“What is beginning to emerge is a real shift in values. This is also inevitably shaping a new, more conscious agenda for businesses and brands.”
The report highlights how all generations want brands to take a stand about important issues impacting the world today but warns they will not tolerate bandwagon jumping.
They expect companies to be obsessively consistent about the issues they campaign for and will hold them to account if they fail.
In contrast, brands that campaign on an issue that really matters and create a difference in the world will be rewarded with loyalty.
As sustainability becomes even more integral to how consumers wish to live their lives, brands will be expected to demonstrate their role in this shared responsibility.
Protecting the environment and working together towards a more sustainable future was a top priority and was ranked as the number one value (69%).
Living for the now
Materialism is giving rise to more indulgent and hedonistic experiential moments as more younger consumers value ‘now moments’ rather than planning ahead in what is viewed as an unpredictable future.
More than half of all consumers (51%) said they are more focussed on the simple pleasures in life as we gradually emerge from lockdown, while 52% said they now focus on what they need and care less about frivolous things, seeing excess as unnecessary overindulgence.
Consumers have adopted a more cautious, risk-free attitude to safety, health, and hygiene. Safety is likely to be factored into every product, service, and brand. Immunity to risk, and personal space will now be the new luxuries.
There will be more cautious living and attention given to reducing risk in daily life. Brands will need to satisfy a changed desire within consumers for removing risk and feeling protected.
- 75% of younger consumers (18–34-year-olds) said businesses should take greater responsibility and do more to create a better and fairer world for everyone.
- 86% of all respondents said we must support local businesses as lockdowns lift.
- Everyday heroes replace ‘empty’ celebrities in the battle for brands to win over consumers. Status, money, and celebrity will be less influential than admirable acts from, and which impact upon, real people.
- A new sense of patriotism has emerged with 66% saying they are proud of their country and where they live. New values will lead consumers to care more about how patriotic choices can build a better tomorrow for everyone.
- 56% said it was important for people to be more open, empathetic and real.
- Slightly more men (50%) than women (45%) agreed that their home is important to them and represents who they are.