Reading a report on ‘5 business trends in 2023’, (you can read at this download link), IBM points out the importance of having a clear sustainability plan. Sustainability has been a word you heard about all the time starting more than ten years ago, and this is not new news.
Business executives who might be reading about 2023 trends might find more interesting what came next: what matters to 44% of consumers is buying from companies that reflect values aligned with consumers’ own. The report says:
‘In 2022, global CEOs named sustainability as the top challenge their organizations are expected to face over the next two to three years—rising from sixth place in 2021… Plus, purpose-driven consumers, who prioritize products and brands that align with their values, now represent the largest shopper segment (44%).’
In a separate report, IBM authors say:
‘…Retailers and brands need to lead with purpose—and use technology as a differentiator—to enable customers to build their own shopping journeys. They must also help consumers live their values through the products they buy, including how they’re sourced, manufactured, and delivered. That starts with understanding what customers really want.’
Hm. I’m not sure we need to help our consumers ‘live their values’ because isn’t it a personal choice to do that part? I disagree with labels and buying labels to ‘fit in’. It doesn’t do anyone any good. You get groupthink too, and work can become culty. I know people feel lonely and want to connect but it doesn’t really work to ‘buy’ or ‘belong’ to something that asks you to pay with money or loyalty and then tell you what else to buy or think. (Yet so many will do this ‘fitting in’ thing willingly. See: Culture of Yes Men.)
It’s up to us to define who we are, for ourselves, clearly, and be honest about that. In other words, I think that it is important to be ultra clear on our own values, as business owners, so that we are authentic when we talk about what matters to us, personally. It radiates throughout communications both internal and external, after all.
If consumers want to find companies and leaders whose companies align with the consumers’ own values, then shouldn’t we be very genuine and honest and open about what we want to define ours to be?
It feels like without honest reflection work, that can’t happen.
Asking customers, ‘Why do you buy from __?’
Sometimes I used to call customers for my clients, to ask this question. It was a way for me to explore and understand more deeply the ‘why’ of the buying part of things. I know that that was ten years ago and life has moved on and so has the internet and people are doing way, way different things to choose their choices, now, but, somehow, I feel that the direct ask is a helpful data set when you have the time and attention to give to it.
I think we got a lot farther because of those interviews to define ‘customer profiles’ because they were composites in the end, of real people who had real comments and valuable insights on what they perceived to be important when they made their choice to hire __ or buy from __. There are so, so many options now.
It’s hard to know where to begin, so that’s why, as we used to say here, Start where you are.
Do you know what your customers really want? Are you being genuine about what you say your values are? Do you want to clarify them, so you can communicate honestly? Seems like that is going to be doubly important, going forward: being who you say you are.
Figuring out your customer profile? Ask me how I can help.