Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

Viral Values: How Do Personal Values Affect Behavior?

Purchases based on core values are shared more often.

Everyday businesses are realizing that in order to prosper in today’s consumer-centric economy satisfying the psychological needs of their customers is vital to their financial success. For example, my friends at Zenzi are constantly touting the benefits of value-based marketing. But why, you may ask, are values so important?

Value-based marketing
Well, value-based marketing can benefit consumers and businesses by connecting with customers at their root motivations. Increasingly, consumers are viewing brands and products as interchangeable. Brand loyalty is decreasing. Soap is soap, in the eyes of today’s savvy consumer, and they are tuning out flashy marketing messages that are insensitive to their deeper, psychological needs, or even worse, manipulative.

Instead research shows that purchases which connect with a person’s core values are more beneficial not only for the consumer, but for increasing the likelihood that the purchase will be shared with others as well.  In a recent study of 253 U.S. residents, Zenzi found that the more a purchase is an expression of the person’s values, the more likely:

  • They will share information about the purchase, both online and via word-of-mouth
  • They will write an online review of the purchase
  • They will do a great deal of research before buying
  • They will involve others in the research process
  • They will spend more money on the purchase

A value-based marketing campaign will therefore likely be targeting not only individual consumers, but also their entire network of friends and family as well. In terms of ROI, a value-based campaign will result in a 6% increase in social media sharing over a traditional marketing campaign. Also, because value-based purchases are central to a person’s identity, they will invest more resources in the entire purchase experience and will involve others as well, making the process a more socially motivated experience.

In today’s social media driven consumer landscape, sharing has become key to a brand’s success. Consumers now take purchasing cues from their friends and family far more than they do from marketers. Some of the most successful viral marketing campaigns in recent memory (such as Dove, Chipotle, and Wal-Mart) have one thing in common – they resonate with people’s values, in addition to entertaining and/or promoting the product.

It is for this reason we at Beyond The Purchase are excited to collaborate with Zenzi with the goal to uncover more insights into how businesses and consumers can create win-win relationships based on satisfaction of value-based goals and psychological needs. To learn more about your values register with Beyond the Purchase (and if you register with Facebook we will tell you how happy your status messages are) and take the Social Values Scale and the Schwartz Values Survey. After each quiz, we will provide you with personalized feedback and happiness tips. Your responses will also help researchers understand the connection between value-based goals and happiness.

Graham Hill, lead researcher at Zenzi communications and former PWB lab member, contributed to this blog. To learn more, visit zenzi.com and sign up for their newsletter, or email info@socialvalues.com.

Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.

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