Study Finds Values Drive Purchasing Choices

Discussion
Sep 30, 2013

While value-driven consumers have been receiving a lot of attention in recent years, Amazon Advertising, part of Publicis Worldwide, has defined a new group of progressive consumers driven by their personal values.

Eco-friendly, tech-savvy and willing to upgrade and talk about why, the "Choicefuls," representing 21 percent of the population, are "enthusiastically making choices that are ‘better-for-me’ and ‘better-for-the-planet’ … and in doing so, they’re significantly happier with their lives."

As a result of the study, Amazon Advertising identified six key conclusions that set the Choicefuls apart:

1) Lifestyle-Driven Purchases: Choicefuls are 77 percent more likely to go out of their way to buy brands that share their personal values, and 89 percent more likely to conduct extensive research before buying.

2) An "It’s Worth It" Mindset: With a value-driven lifestyle, Choicefuls are 51 percent more likely to believe that healthy living may cost more, but the results are worth it. They’re 10 times more likely to prioritize exercise in their lives even if that means rearranging their daily schedule to make it happen.

3) Happier: Because they’re living their values, they don’t feel they’re making compromises and are happier and more satisfied with life compared to the rest of the population. They are 92 percent happier with their current weight, 43 percent happier with their work/life balance, and 30 percent happier with their professional success.

4) Pet Food/Household Products Earn Value:
Their proactive, healthy lifestyle extends beyond their own food and fitness choices. Choicefuls are 80 percent more likely to feed their pets in line with their own diet and lifestyle. They’re also 36 percent more likely to pay more for household products that are earth-friendly, biodegradable and phosphate free.

5) Forward-Thinking/Experimental: Choicefuls are two times more likely to enjoy experimenting with the latest healthy food fads and flavors. They’re also more open to emerging technologies. For example, they are 32 percent more likely to use mobile banking apps once or twice a week.

6) Great Connectors: Choicefuls are 50 percent more likely to regularly comment online, write online reviews, or blog about their lives or a topic that interests them. They’re also three times more likely to say that people often ask their advice when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices.

"The ‘Choicefuls’ represent a dynamic group of consumers in search of brands that mirror their values," said Liz Paul, director of strategy at Amazon Advertising. "Whether it’s feeding their pets an organic diet or making exercise a strong priority in their lives, this group is constantly making purposeful choices."

Are values-based purchasers becoming a more critical buying force and trend driver? Do you see value-based purchasers notably increasing in number and influence in the years ahead?

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18 Comments on "Study Finds Values Drive Purchasing Choices"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

Customers have the luxury of being “choiceful” when they are in turn optimistic and not as fearful. This is a sign the recessionary effects are softening. Is it something retail brands can execute as well as restaurant like Pret A Manger? I’m not sure.

Warren Thayer
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

I suspect that the 21% of people identified as “Choicefuls” also skew higher in self-reported actions versus reality. A factor, sure, and no doubt growing. But I can’t swallow some of the high numbers as reported by the somewhat suspect sample.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
8 years 7 months ago
Full disclosure here. Twelve years ago Fred Crawford and I wrote a book titled, “The Myth of Excellence” which went to great lengths and used some of the most comprehensive and elaborate quantitative and qualitative data ever assembled for a study of consumer behavior to say that values clearly trumped “value” when it came to consumer purchasing. So, my answer is the question really ought to be, “Are values-based purchasers continuing to be a more critical buying force and trend driver?” And, my answer would be, “Yes, where have you all been?” That said, I find the “Choicefuls” argument – God save us from cute marketing language – a bit superficial. Yes, cases can be made for cause marketing, lifestyle marketing, ideological marketing, etc., but our research suggested that those are just the superficial byproducts of a deeper form of values marketing, one that has to do with the individual’s emotional experience of the world. So, I guess I’d suggest losing the cutesie terms and peeling back the marketing onion one more layer to examine… Read more »
Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

I see the whole notion of value-based shopping changing. Historically, value was defined as quality divided by price. My definition of value is benefits received divided by burdens endured.

The “choicefuls” capture this definition by the number of non-quality related benefits they seek. In addition, the use of mobile banking apps once or twice a week, support the notion of reducing a time-draining burden and as well as providing for needed convenience. Today, for most consumers, quality divided by price is no longer the relevant definition of value.

Dick Seesel
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

I’m not sure whether there is an exact correlation between self-described “values” shoppers and actual market share, but there is little doubt that green-friendly “values” in particular drive a lot of consumer behavior. But the phenomenon of “early adopters” of new foods and technology shouldn’t be confused with “values” consumption. This has always been a subset of the consumer population, and is likely to grow as Millennials’ spending power also increases.

Zel Bianco
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

I think we’ve seen the evidence of consumers speaking loudly in purchasing markets, and they are definitely leading by choice, so “choiceful” is a great name for this demographic. People have always been choosy, however, brands are now trying to catch up to those choices as opposed to dictating them. They will have to discover ways to connect to buyers: it’s not only about the best price for a lot of people.

Millennials and people exposed to more advanced technologies are often more open to new ideas, so this just translates into the retail arena as well. Value-based purchases will definitely increase over the years as people find causes that connect with their own personal beliefs and brands that connect the two.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

Depending upon how value is defined, each study finds something different. I have seen these values being applied to the “hippie” generation, the young generation all the time, or Gen Y. It seems to me that this set of values is always relevant for a portion of the population, but that not all studies capture this information.

The other relevant questions, not answered here, are is this a separate group of consumers? Separate from which other consumers? Is “choiceful” a characteristic that permeates consumers who also belong to other segments? Is this the dominant value for making purchasing decisions?

Tom Redd
Guest
8 years 7 months ago
These “choicefuls” are a much smaller segment of the retail GLOBAL market then this advertising firm-created article communicates. These choicefuls are just Baby Boomer hippies and Millennials that are imitating them. So what is my point? This type of overdone marketing spin applies to a small segment of the overall retail marketplace. Before some retailer rushes off to service the choicefuls, they need to make sure that playing with this small market segment is worth it – in margin and assortments – and that it does not make them look like just a trend follower. Over the next 5 years of retailing, as the Millennials age and retailers re-shape with new methods and tools, we will have lots of trend groups like this – and more of them created by ad agencies. Proof point: coming from a family of veterinarians, people that feed their dogs in alignment with their own diets and styles do not understand real dogs. Most of these “fancy” dog foods are marketing tools to lift margins and do not improve a… Read more »
Anne Howe
Guest
8 years 7 months ago
It’s been no secret that attitudes and beliefs drive purchase decisions. The hard part of this knowledge is getting to the real reasons based on survey data, since it’s almost impossible for consumers to give answers that correlate to the real emotional drivers that sit deep in the subconscious part of the brain. That said, the basic premise of the buying behavior connected to values and purpose is valid and proven out via other types of research. The real question, for marketers, is how to trigger the emotions that drive purchases along the consumer journey. Where and when, and what type of message or experience will spark the emotional memory and pull the emotion forward in a way that gets consumers to act on it? Beyond that, what’s the way to track the shift? Survey research is not the way to get to this. All in all, sparking an emotion or value is a powerful purchase motivator, as it triggers a shift in the neuron patterns in our brains. When a shift happens, there’s at… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

As Warren correctly notes, there is usually a gap – sometimes a chasm – between what people do and what they SAY they do; combine this with the contrived name (“choiceful”…UGH!!) and the overly black/white divisions the study claims, and I’m tempted to dismiss it altogether. But I won’t, because I think it’s onto something. Indeed, the flood of products claiming “green,””eco,” and “socially conscious” credentials suggests manufacturers and marketers are well aware of the trend, which can only mean “values” will become both ubiquitous and, paradoxically, less meaningful in the future…bad news for the true believers.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

Value-based purchases have been and will continue to be important. Belief in what is important to oneself has a strong influence on purchases.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

I think this trend varies widely across global regions. We in the U.S. are largely driven by values, or “cause”-related shopping, marketing, social chatter, etc. Other regions of the world may have very little driving behavior in this area, however, I also believe that this trend will accelerate faster overseas than it will in the U.S.

Shoppers look for more than just product or service attributes prior to purchases. This is true for major as well as small purchases. Brands would be wise to leverage this growing trend, and literally introduce the trend where it is not yet prevalent.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

As others have pointed out, the segment of the population that has the opportunity to make these choices varies throughout the world. To be willing to spend more money to support your choices means you have the money in the first place.

I also agree with Warren that what people say and what they do are definitely not always the same. When we ask whether or not one does something that might be perceived as a good thing, do we really expect people to say no?

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
8 years 7 months ago

I do think values-based purchasing is increasing.

I would be wary of the dangers of persona-based segmentation though. A group like “choicefuls” includes a massive number of unique people – all with individual needs and a complex mix of different motivations. So I would be very sure some of this group will be swayed by a promotion to buy a non-eco laundry detergent, and others will buy “unsustainable” coffee.

Trends are very valuable and research like this is important, but it doesn’t replace understanding each customer from observing their own behavior. In fact, almost all of these motivations and habits can be derived from purchase behavior anyway to provide a much finer grained view of your customers and to drive much smarter strategies and action plans.

Shep Hyken
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

Values-based purchasers, especially those that are focused on a cause, are a great target market. The cosmetics company that doesn’t believe in animal testing has a specific audience that follows them. Be it “American Made” (or whatever country the consumer chooses), an environmentally friendly company, etc., those values are embraced by certain customers, and they may find a place in your marketing plan.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

The cost of production of any product carries a burden of liabilities that manufacturers and users must be aware of simply because of the financial ramifications for abuse and or misuse to any and all parties. This is why companies are signing on to “green” products and production.

Profit capture is getting more and more difficult to maintain let alone grow from quarter to quarter. A company that risks being crushed from litigation losses when smarter planning, production and use could have been an option from the beginning, risks even more from public opinion and rejection as the result of a bad decision. Times have changed leaving us with consumers and courts demanding more responsibility and that pass down hard decisions on those that are unwilling to accept the wants and needs of today’s population. Values-based purchasing is a growing method and here for the long haul.

Shilpa Rao
Guest
8 years 7 months ago

Value based as described by Amazon makes perfect sense for Amazon customer segment initiatives. However, this might not be the right segment to target for all retailers. Some of the description here describes a lot of Millennials and generation X who are moving towards a healthier lifestyle and more eco-friendly options. Brand promise and brand values have been important for shoppers for a while now, but healthier and eco-friendly claims make shoppers feel they are doing their bit for the environment.

Mike Osorio
Guest
Mike Osorio
8 years 7 months ago

The key for a retailer or brand is to start with understanding the core DNA of their brand and their consumer proposition. Next, studies like this can be quite helpful in targeting communications to groups such as “choicefuls.” But even if accurate, this is 21%. The other 79% have different motivations and there is likely situational dynamics as well. So, it is interesting, and if the ‘choiceful’ crowd’s motivations align with the brand DNA, focused efforts should be employed to target this group. But it is only one part of the overall marketing strategy.

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