Rick Parrish, Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

Consumers are shifting spend toward companies that align with their values. It’s not a trend brands can ignore, as the economic impacts could be enormous. However, that doesn’t mean the right move is to jump into values with both feet à la Patagonia.

On this episode of What It Means, Principal Analyst Rick Parrish explains why firms must craft a thoughtful, brand-appropriate values strategy now. To support this effort, we’ll walk you through Forrester’s new company values framework. The nine-option framework encompasses different ways companies can: 1) have values and 2) express values. (Note: These things are not one and the same.)

For a long time, companies have both had and expressed only neutral values, like “integrity” or “sustainability.” These aren’t sources of differentiation, as no brand would advertise themselves as “deceitful” or “big fans of pollution.” In today’s polarized world, such neutrality is perceived by some consumers to be part of the problem. Many consumers want brands to take stands on issues that they care passionately about. They’re also more suspicious of brands’ motives and more willing and able to dig deep and see if companies are really living the values they claim to espouse.

Yet a bold expression of values is not appropriate for every brand. The right move is to assess where your brand is and where it should be. This right choice could be a traditional approach, a reactive approach, a proactive approach, or one of many options in between.