I’ve just returned from a trip through India where I had the opportunity to experience the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. One of the most gripping aspects, even beyond the impressive design and meticulous customer service, is the property’s history: The story of how one man’s personal endeavor yielded a global brand that’s iconic of Indian culture is told through photographs and artifacts throughout the hotel.
Luxury brands like Taj Hotels often promote their legacy to resonate with consumers – whether it’s through a display of prized artifacts, as in Brooks Brothers’ flagship store, or through modern digital immersion like Louis Vuitton’s recent exhibit. By revealing the brand’s source, companies do more than show their quality or reputation; they invite consumers into a shared reality anchored around certain values, ethics, and standards.
Now, luxury brands are not the only ones that benefit from touting their sources. Today’s values-based consumers are driven to research the ingredients, production, and personalities behind their everyday purchases because they want to buy from brands that share their personal values. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that global consumers consciously use brands to broadcast their personal beliefs:
While the data varies globally, these numbers are on the rise; for instance, in the US, 51% of online adults actively consider company values when making a purchase today compared to 43% two years ago. As consumers crave deeper emotional connection and seek meaningful relationships, they turn to brands to satisfy their needs. Companies that invite customers to participate in shared values and beliefs through brand building form strong communities and boost emotional (and subsequently behavioral) loyalty.
As my colleague Dipanjan Chatterjee says in his recent report, “While the intensity of building a business can crowd out the activity of building a brand, brand building cannot be a casual afterthought to business building.” This will become especially relevant in 2018 as consumers increasingly unite around brands that amplify personal values. Therefore, marketers must become anthropologists; as Dipanjan says: “An in-depth understanding of your market is vital to framing the right brand proposition. Arm’s-length secondary research is only acceptable as a starting point.”