The rise of social media and the ubiquity of information has fundamentally transformed the way consumer products companies operate. In a world where reputation is everything, these organizations can’t survive on product quality alone, which is why so many are placing a renewed emphasis on brand trust and loyalty.
I recently had the opportunity to hear retail industry leaders explore ideas around brand engagement and customer trust; over the next few years, each will only become more important as consumer buying habits, distribution models and technology evolve. Both my own experience and research suggest that shared values are central to developing lasting brand trust. Competitive pricing and market saturation have nurtured an environment where customers can afford to buy based on how an organization’s culture aligns with their personal values, with a special emphasis on corporate responsibility – including their labor practices, supply chain ethics and sustainability initiatives.
These trends raise an important question for businesses: which ultimately matters more to customers, a company’s culture or the products themselves?
This is not meant to suggest that firms should neglect product quality in favor of value alignment.. I’ve found that earning consumer trust is an organic phenomenon, and it’s crucial for organizations to humanize their brand by creating avenues for customers to connect with both products and the companies that stand behind them.
Creating a Shared Goal
In my own experience, finding a cultural fit between organizations and their customers has never been more important. Through a recent partnership with a global consumer products organization, we found that the client was just as focused on screening back-office vendors for value alignment as they were with front-line representatives. While it’s obvious that marketing and sales employees or partners need to embody the brand’s values, it’s equally important for partners to understand and share your organization’s mission.
Even companies that have built a reputation for outstanding quality, like Apple, place a heavy emphasis on creating a culture that resonates with their customers. Apple in particular ensures public visibility into their environmental sustainability efforts, deepening their appeal with consumers for whom “going green” is a priority. At the same time, failures to live up to customers’ ideals and your brand’s values can have serious repercussions.
Aligning with Customer Values
Throughout Capgemini’s partnerships with leading consumer brands, we’ve developed an insightful, effective process to align organizations’ actions and messaging with their customers’ values. Not only is it important for your organization to truly espouse the principles it touts, it’s equally vital to communicate your organization’s values to your customers, vendors and partners. By creating an ecosystem of shared values, consumer organizations can establish greater brand loyalty while connecting with their audiences in a more meaningful, lasting way.