Consumers base their purchase decisions on values

COVID-19 learnings: The Next New

Values are usually extremely slow to change. However, the impact of COVID-19 has been so strong that we can even see a shift in people’s values. At the same time, we are seeing a development where an increasing share of consumers are basing their purchase decisions on their values. According to the recent Next New survey, 30% of Finns reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their preference for companies and brands with values similar to their own*. 

Attaching values to consumer decisions is a trend that will impact the success of companies and brands tomorrow and their necessary action today. What is happening with people’s values and what could it mean for companies? 

1. Communal values have strengthened

Individualistic values have strengthened throughout the measurement of values – for almost 50 years. Now, communal values are on the rise. Benevolence (helpfulness, reliability, friendliness) and universalism (broad-mindedness, justice, protecting nature) are challenging the triumphant march of individualism for the first time since the war.

How have companies put communal values into practice? 

K-Markets, for example, have branded themselves as “your local village shop”  (“Oman kylän kauppa”). Shopkeeper Ville Kestilä from K-Market Tervapata announced that his shop is a no-bullying zone. For any job applications that lead to an interview, Vincit is donating EUR 5 to Gubbe, a service aimed at helping the elderly lead a happier and more active lifestyle. Siili is tackling climate change by compensating for the carbon footprint of its employees by planting a SiiliForest.

2. Safety and conformity more and more important

As the world is turned upside down around us and feelings of fear and anxiety increased globally, we sought security and turned our attention closer to home. The appreciation of security and conformity (obedience, self-discipline, respect) has risen among Finns in all age groups. In Sitra’s Futures Barometer 2021, ‘equal’ and ‘safe’ were the most frequently mentioned words when describing a desirable future for Finland.

How have companies put the values of safety and conformity into practice? 

During COVID-19 companies have of course been very  focused on the value of safety by ensuring proper hygiene. Shops, taxis and all types of services are equipped with plexiglass barriers. The launch of The Barö, a new archipelago hotel, was heavily based on safety, making contactless stays possible. You could even rent out the whole Sea Life Aquarium entirely for yourself and friends.

3. Self-direction on the rise 

The value of self-direction did not kick off quite as strongly as the values mentioned above, but took some time after the start of the epidemic to properly get going (creativity, curiosity, choosing one’s own goals). We waited for a moment to listen to the instructions of our heads of state and the media and then started to adapt and learn ourselves. 

How have companies put the value of self-direction into practice? 

The forced circumstances of remote working brought the significance and necessity of self-direction to a completely new level in businesses and homes. Companies and brands have helped consumers fulfil themselves throughout the pandemic; people have been inspired to sourdough baking, to renovate at home and participate in online courses. Foodpanda, a German food delivery platform, offers its riders an e-learning platform for self-development despite trickly working hours and operating environments. Gofore recruits employees to work remotely so that people can live wherever they desire.

If you want to discuss customer insight or foresight further, please contact: Katja Gunnelius, COO, +358 (0)50 376 1125, [email protected]

*Source: Fourth part of the Next New report by hasan & partners group. The report has analysed changes in consumer behaviour and people’s valuations since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schwartz's universal value map is used as the value reference framework for the study. 

Katja Gunnelius