Wunderman sees consumer shift from valuables to values

valuables to values wt

A new study from Wunderman Thompson UK shows a shift from valuables to values among consumers  as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Valuables to values

What has long been a macro trend from valuing material goods to rewarding experiences has sped up WT said. A third of respondents said they value material possessions less vs before the lockdown; and 20% of people place less value on self-image.

Whilst the value of material possessions and concern with self-image are in decline, people have an increased appreciation of the people and world around them.

A total of 56% of respondents said they value ‘togetherness’ more; and 38% state they want to use the opportunity to have a positive impact on society.

Values are experienced on a deeper level than thoughts and feelings, which tend to be more fleeting. A shift in consumer values can therefore indicate a long-term impact on purchasing decisions.

In addition, there is increasing evidence that people are motivated towards brands that share the same values.

Spending time and money

The study focused on consumer values, and particularly how people want to spend their time and money in future.

“We’ve found that people’s values have shifted over the last three months”, Pip Hulbert, UK CEO at Wunderman Thompson said.

“Lockdown has highlighted that we’re all quite good at getting by on less than we thought, and the things that matter to us most are closer to home than we realised.

“As a result, it’s increasingly important that brands consistently deliver meaningful experiences reflecting the values they share with their consumers, and that they do this through every aspect of their business.”

valuables to values
Change of values: Lockdown has forced a rethink of values over valuables.


Less materialism

A third of respondents said they value material possessions less vs before the lockdown; and 45% say they now value designer labels less, highest amongst Gen Z.

Luxury goods are the item people are most likely to stop buying (19%) or trade down on in future (9%).

Luxury through lockdown has been redefined to more than possessions; it’s about creating the time and space to enjoy special moments and extraordinary experiences.

Bad hair? Deal with it!

Being at home for months seems to have led to fewer concerns with how people look. Cosmetics and clothing are areas we see people claim they will be trading down, whilst 20% now place less value on personal appearance.

The previous trend towards an ever more image conscious world, may have actually slowed for the time being.

Bad hair day: We’re all less bothered about no being polished for our video calls!

Brands in the business of helping people look good, may want to re-examine products and services to meet evolving values such as connecting with others and the desire to have a positive impact in the world.

A rising sense of community

The crisis has had some effect on our sense of togetherness, as we’re seeing a significant rise in community mindedness. 56% more people value ‘togetherness’, 44% more people value ‘respect’ vs before the lockdown and 43% valuing ‘community’ than before the lockdown

This shift from valuables to values is largely consistent across political persuasions WT said; suggesting there is greater overlap of values now compared to the Brexit years.

Immigration is now lower down the list of priority issues (4th from bottom), as does leaving the EU at the end of the year (3rd from bottom).

Brands must step up

When asked about a role for brands, respondents placed the emphasis squarely on sorting out what is in their own backyard first – treating employees fairly (52%), improving sanitation and hygiene (47%), ensuring safety or products and services (41%).

There is also a role for companies to play in working with government and other companies to rebuild the economy (44%), as well as supporting local businesses and jobs (43%).

Right at the bottom are aspects such as ‘having a point of view on how to make the world a better place’ (21%) and ‘making me laugh or cheering me up’ (17%), indicating that now more than ever, people need to see concrete actions and meaningful communications.

Loving each other more

Perhaps unsurprisingly people have a renewed appreciation of others. 65% said they now value other people more, with 60% saying time with others is more important to them.

Whilst 56% of people are more grateful for technology that connects them to others, it’s clear there is no substitute for real life human to human connection.

Few people say they will miss interacting with friends and family via zoom (12%).

Rediscovering nature

The inadvertent benefits of lockdown have increased our sense of connection with the natural world.

A more peaceful, less polluted local environment is something 54% of people said they would miss if lockdown ended tomorrow. 46% would miss less traffic on the road, and 43% the cleaner air.

French mountains
Great outdoors: Less movement equals less pollution, which we’re all loving.

Importantly, 38% said they’re keen to rethink and rebuild a better society as a result of the crisis.

Good food takes on new meaning

As one of the few things people have been able to control these past months, and a means to both treat and nourish, good food has risen in significance.

39% of people said they value good food more. Some 17% said they expect to spend more on groceries and 13% thinking about trading up.

We’re likely to witness similar spending patterns to past recessions; with people refocusing on small but discretionary purchases as a way to self-treat.