Human values in the digital world

Human insight

As industries converge and new agile players present a challenge, companies need to fight harder to earn consumer engagement. To do this, they must go where the people are: in the digital world. We became curious to find out if brands should approach digital brand building differently than when using traditional methods.

Digitization that reshapes markets

Digitization has affected brand builders in many ways. The abundance of data creates both opportunities and headaches. There are a myriad of consumer touch points and micro-moments that pose new opportunities and obligations. Our behaviors as consumers can change rapidly as a result of changes in markets. Airbnb suddenly had us asking strangers if we could stay in their homes. Chinese automotive challenger Lynk & Co is planning to do the same to the car market by letting others borrow cars while the owners are at work.

What motivates people in the digital world?

However, the profound human motivations that drive us remain more or less the same over time. These are the fundamental values that guide our decision-making and impact our attitude to things in our surroundings. Past experience and research have shown that these life values have a strong impact on what brands we buy. It is a better predictor of brand choice than any other factor we’ve researched, including demographics and interests. Shared values are the basis of any relationship.

We explored human motivations in the digital landscape to understand if and how the approach to brand-building should be changed. We found that human motivations have a similar impact in digital and traditional brand-building. We found that the preference for brands that started online, known as digital natives, varied across consumer segments. This supports the notion that human motivations are important in terms of what brands people will choose in the digital landscape, too. We also found that the differences between the most-liked and the least-liked brands were bigger among digital natives than traditional brands.

Know who you serve

These findings support the need for brands to have insight into their core target group. Our human motivations not only affect what brands we choose, but also impact other decisions. For example, they affect our interests, where we spent time and who we trust. We believe that knowing which people you serve and what they find important should help guide most company activities. This holds true for traditional as well as digital markets.