Stop chasing trends and drive success through shared values

Stop chasing trends and drive success through shared values
Whether you’re searching for the latest TikTok dance, how to part hair, mood foods, or 90s fashion inspiration, trends are everywhere and constantly evolving. They’re also as pervasive and important to brand marketers as key product benefits and packaging. As a brand marketer, it’s important to look for the next big trend that will set your product apart from the competition, put you ahead of the curve, and appeal to ever-changing consumer preferences.

There’s no doubt that brand awareness and alignment with trends is an important factor in attracting new customers and maintaining sales. However, blindly chasing trends is a losing game. Instead, brands should focus on cultivating a lasting impact on the people they reach through shared values.

Aligning on values that endure

Trends come and go, but values endure. As marketers, we understand that what’s hot today may be a forgotten fad tomorrow. If you build your brand around short-lived trends, you'll find yourself constantly playing catch-up and fighting to capture market share. By focusing on shared values, brands can create a meaningful connection that resonates with a wide range of consumers, regardless of age, background, or interests.

Today's consumers are multi-dimensional, driven by intersectional experiences, and refuse to be defined by a single trend or stereotype. Brands shouldn’t try to fit them neatly into one box—consumers want you to recognize their complexity and diversity and respond to it. Consumers, especially younger generations, seek out brands that align with their personal values, whether that’s sustainability, inclusivity, social justice, or something else entirely. And they reward brands that impact society—with their buying power and advocacy.

In fact, 81% of consumers say a brand’s values are important to them.  They’re also willing to put their money where their values are: 75% of consumers are likely to buy a product from a brand that shares their values, while a lack of shared values is the number one reason consumers stop buying from a brand.

So, what values matter most to consumers? While they vary from person to person, some key themes are nearly universal. For example, today’s consumers care about sustainability, social justice, and authenticity. They want products that benefit the planet, support meaningful causes, and come from companies that are transparent and honest about their practices. Brands need to tap into these values and build programs and content that embody them.

Here are some key tips on how to engage a wide range of consumers and foster long-term brand loyalty:

  • Be authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Today’s consumers are savvy and can easily spot a phony. Be honest about your brand’s values and practices, as well as transparent about your shortcomings. Admitting mistakes and demonstrating a commitment to improving earns more respect than pretending to be perfect.

  • Listen to your consumers. Don’t assume you know what consumers want or what matters to them. Take the time to engage with them through social media, surveys, or focus groups. Listen and use their feedback to drive product innovation, shape brand strategy, and deliver personalized experiences.

  • Support causes that matter. Modern consumers want to support brands that make a positive impact in the world. Identify causes that align with your brand values and make a real commitment to supporting them—whether through donations, volunteering, or advocacy. Younger consumers especially value empathy from the brands they choose, so show that your business is more than just profit driven.

  • Embrace diversity. Your consumers come from all walks of life, and they want to see themselves reflected in your brand. Showcasing diversity in your marketing materials, product offerings, and company culture is essential. Show that you value and celebrate differences instead of trying to fit everyone into a narrow mold.

However, it's not enough to promote value in your marketing messages and campaigns. Your brand must demonstrate those values through actions. Social media provides consumers with an unprecedented platform to hold brands accountable. From viral Twitter threads to Instagram callouts, consumers freely express their opinions and experiences with companies. In fact, research shows that more than half (51%) of consumers have called out a company on social media. If your brand doesn’t uphold its values, you can bet those opinions will negatively impact customer behavior, brand equity, and your bottom line.

When brands prioritize shared values over fleeting trends, they create a genuine connection that resonates with today's consumers. And the best part? This approach not only drives short-term sales; it creates a loyal following of brand fans who will stick with you for years to come.

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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Meet the author
  1. Jackie Hopkins, Managing Partner, Communications and Marketing

    Jackie is a senior leader in communications and marketing with over 25 years of experience developing and executing data-driven ideas that deliver cultural relevance, resonance, and a strong return on investment.
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