Director of Marketing
A makeup brand garnered huge success by offering quality cosmetics at drugstore prices. Combined with their strong stance against animal testing (and “cruelty-free” labeling on product packaging) the company cultivated a fiercely loyal customer base.
Then the company was discovered selling products in China. Activists sounded the alarm that post-market animal testing could occur — and many said the brand could no longer be considered cruelty-free.
It’s a complex situation but one thing is clear: The makeup giant is facing a PR challenge because many customers believe the company no longer shares their values.
Get in sync
According to a Cone Communications Study, 76 percent of consumers would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. On the flip side, 87 percent said they’d purchase a product because that company supports an issue they care about.
Companies with values aligned to their customers’ values are much more likely to achieve deeper loyalty and, consequently, increased profits. So how do you go about determining your corporate values? Forrester Research recommends three guidelines:
- Make it relevant. Understand what matters to your customers.
- Embrace values wholeheartedly. It’s not a “one and done” kind of thing.
- Be radically transparent. Keep promises and report progress.
76 percent of consumers would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
— Cone Communications
Make it relevant
Just thinking you know what your customers value isn’t enough. You need to be sure. Conducting a survey is an effective way to collect valuable information about what customers love — and don’t love — about your company. It also can capture raw data about how people perceive your brand.
If you find customers choose your company because you’re environmentally responsible, for instance, your packaging should tout your commitment to sustainability. If customers share your support for a social cause, consider endorsing it on your products.
Here’s a good example: Bud Light has a strong LGBTQ customer base and believes in supporting the cause. They recently partnered with The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to launch limited-edition rainbow aluminum bottles for World Pride Day.
Embrace values wholeheartedly
Once you lock in your values, it’s critical to commit to your pledge. Let’s consider Gucci. Assuming luxury is the shared value, the company trains every staff member on how to provide the highest level of service. Product packaging must be elegantly on brand and perfectly displayed. The website must be free of broken links and missing pages.
Everything must convey opulence and exclusivity. This doesn’t happen with one company meeting. It’s an ongoing process and every employee’s responsibility.
Be radically transparent
TOMS Shoes is a company with strong corporate values that has fostered tremendous customer loyalty. The company’s One for One program gives away a free pair of shoes to a child in need for ever pair purchased.
In-store merchandising clearly features the program’s One for One messaging. And the displays often include photos — or even videos — of the children receiving brand new shoes. Very powerful.
The company’s website reports they have given 60 million pairs of shoes away in more than 70 countries. That’s clear evidence that TOMS Shoes is staying true to its corporate values and keeping its promise.
Make the connection
Roy E. Disney once said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” Take the time to find out what your customers value and then align your principles to theirs. Then ensure your packaging and visual merchandising reflects those beliefs. It will help foster an enduring connection between customers and your brand.