Social Spending: People Are More Likely to Involve Others in Purchases That Reflect Their Core Values

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Research conducted by Zenzi Communications finds that value-based purchases are shared more often, involve more research, and tend to cost more.

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A value-based marketing campaign will likely be targeting not only individual consumers, but also their entire network of friends and family as well.

A recent study conducted by Zenzi Communications found that when a person makes a purchase that reflects their core values, they are more likely to involve others in all phases of the purchase process, from the research phase to sharing information about the purchase afterwards. This finding carries important implications both for consumers and for companies attempting to communicate with them.

Zenzi’s researchers were interested in exploring the psychological and behavioral differences that occur when a consumer purchase is motivated by their value system, as opposed to more practical concerns. For example, would a person who buys a hybrid car because they are passionate about protecting the environment behave differently than the person who buys one simply to save a little money on gas? Important differences emerged in the results. In a survey 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

The researchers conclude that because value-based purchases are central to a person’s identity, they will spend more time, effort, and resources in the entire purchase experience, and will involve others in the process as well. For consumers, this may influence the level of satisfaction and happiness they obtain from the purchase.

“A value-based purchase tends to be a more socially motivated experience,” said Graham Hill, Lead Researcher at Zenzi. “Because research suggests that social experiences are better for a person’s well-being than solitary experiences, value-based purchases may lead to greater satisfaction and well-being from the purchase, both immediate and long term."

The study also carries implications for marketers attempting to reach a broader audience. Zenzi’s research indicates that value-driven purchases will be shared 6% more often than purchases not involving values. Thus, “a value-based marketing campaign will likely be targeting not only individual consumers, but also their entire network of friends and family as well,” said Hill.

Zenzi’s Social Values practice combines marketing expertise, academic research, and data science to help businesses create meaningful, value-based connections with their customers and employees. We leverage ValueBase, the world’s most comprehensive database of values-driven insights, to help business align their brand’s core values with those of their customers. For more information on how Zenzi can help uncover the underlying motivations of your target audience, visit, or email info(at)socialvalues(dot)com.

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