What do consumers want most from brands today? We asked them.

What do consumer want most from brands today? Is it simply functional benefits they seek, or higher order, purpose-driven behaviors? Are there differences across gender and generations?

Of course, brands must still meet functional consumer needs.

According to a quick snapshot we did with ProdegeMR in an Omnibus study with U.S. consumers*, we found that first and foremost people still prioritize quality and value in terms of what they seek from brands. When asked, “What do you want most from brands today?,” 37 percent said “Make the highest quality products” and 29 percent said “Make products of the best value,” both factors that are about meeting functional consumer needs.

But some consumers are prioritizing higher-order values and behaviors.

But when you take out these two top responses, it’s interesting to note that almost 20 percent of respondents would prioritize higher order values and behaviors that align with consumers’ attitudes and beliefs, such as:

  • Act responsibly – follow responsible business practices – 7 percent
  • Care about more than shareholders – give back to the community and society – 4 percent
  • Make its beliefs and values known – 2 percent
  • Transparent marketing and communication – 2 percent
  • Positive, inspiring marketing and communication – 2 percent

The remaining 16 percent of respondents would prioritize more goal-oriented outcomes, such as:

  • Solve problems that are important to me – 7 percent
  • Help me reach my goals – 5 percent
  • Make it easy and enjoyable to buy from them – 4 percent

It’s universal—it’s not just Millennials who care.

These findings don’t vary much between men and women and across generations. There are small differences one can note, such as women caring a little more than men about “act responsibly.” Perhaps not surprisingly given their “striving” lifestage, younger respondents have a bent towards wanting brands to help them reach their goals. It’s been reported by many other sources how Millennial consumers care more about social responsibility. These findings are similar in that more young people (compared to those older in age) said they wanted transparent and positive, inspiring marketing and communication.

What does this mean for brands?

We know that delivering quality and value is price of entry. In today’s environment, it’s important to raise brand standards beyond this to include genuine purpose and responsibility. Consider these complementing data points:

  • 79 percent of consumers prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose. (Source: Economist Purpose Study 2018)
  • 57 percent of consumers are buying or boycotting brands based on a societal or political issue and 30 percent are doing so more than 3 years ago. (Source: Edelman 2017 Earned Brands Study)
  • 56 percent of adults globally agree “I’d rather pay double for a product than buy it from a brand that I think is harmful to society.” It increases to 63 percent for the age 18-29 demographic. (Source: Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, 2018)
  • 87 percent of consumers said they’d purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and more than 75 percent would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. (Source: 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study)
  • 94 percent of consumers said they’d be more loyal to brands and 73 percent said they’d pay more for a product that are completely transparent. (Source: Label Insight 2016 Transparency ROI Study)
  • 75 percent of consumers expect brands to make more of a contribution to their wellbeing and quality of life. (Source: 2017 Meaningful Brands® Global Study, Havas Group)

To evaluate where you stand against today’s consumer desires and ensure brand relevance, ask yourself:

  • Do I have an articulated brand purpose, ideology, and character to guide brand and employee activity and behavior?
  • Am I clear on my brand’s and business’s role and responsibility to society and our culture?
  • Is my brand marketing responsible and serving our consumers?
  • Is my brand emotionally resonant with my consumers?
  • Is my path to purchase seamless and frictionless?
  • Is my content marketing engaging and valuable?
  • Does my innovation solve a real consumer problem and need?

Interested in addressing these questions?

Reach out to The Agency Oneto, a business and brand strategy agency that partners with leaders and organizations to manage strategic, positive change for their organization, business, and brands with a never-ending commitment to their success.


*Source: Data from an omnibus study conducted by ProdegeMR with 750 U.S. adults ages 18+, January 2018.

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