How Strategic Market Research Can Help Your Company Determine Your Customer’s Changing Values


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While it’s natural for people’s values to evolve throughout their lives, the stress and anxiety that have come with the pandemic have been a catalyst for more rapid change. We can already see values shifting across the broader U.S. population. Brands will want to keep on top of these changing values and attitudes to continue their connection and appeal with their target audience. However, it’s nearly impossible to know how specific consumer segments will be affected without conducting strategic market research.

What’s causing value changes?
We’re in a very tumultuous time. Unemployment may have spiked and is now receding, but the latest reports suggest it will be 2024 before U.S. employment levels return to pre-pandemic levels. This has put a financial strain on many consumers who, as a result, will increasingly value affordability and convenience. Due to stay-at-home orders, we’ve increased social isolation and there’s a growing sense of public empathy which will cause many consumers to value community more than ever. They’ll be looking for brands committed to making an impact on social welfare and community health. Heightened awareness on both the U.S. economy and global politics will cause some consumers to pay closer attention to where products are sourced or manufactured. Brands looking to build relationships with these groups will need to find ways to increase their production footprint within the U.S.

Market research provides insights
So, how can your company determine your customers’ changing values? Market research can shed some light by engaging with your target audience and digging deeper to find what’s driving them. Through strategic questions and analysis, market research can provide insights on the perceived value of your brand or product, customer needs and wants, target audience demographics and even their media consumption habits to narrow marketing spend. By processing the data received from market research and determining what values have changed, brands can then move forward with new offerings, revised marketing messages, or confirm that they’re still on the right path.

Market research is already uncovering insights
As people have been forced to live differently, the result is changing values in the way they live and shop. Here are a few customer value changes we’ve seen as a direct result of the pandemic:

Shift to shopping online – Staying indoors has naturally increased the need for online shopping, and we have seen rapid changes in behavior that would have otherwise taken years. In the U.S., consumers spent $211.5 billion on e-commerce during the second quarter of 2020, up 31.8 percent quarter-over-quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Spend more time on leisure activities – Behaviors have notably changed, whether we look at the amount of time people are spending on self-care, mental health, and physical wellness, or the time spent watching television at home. More time is also being spent reading the news and taking up hobbies.

Shift in spending habits – These behavioral changes are leading to a shift in spending habits as people are spending more on experiences and less on material things. Additionally, with the closures of spas and salons, purchases of self-care items have also been on the rise. We’ve also seen increased spending among our clients in the entertainment, home furnishings, streaming and delivery services.

Value-based purchasing – The instability of jobs, fear, and stress brought on by COVID-19, and people stocking essentials at home has put more focus on value-based purchasing. Consumers are more price-sensitive than ever and are looking for convenience. To reduce exposure to the virus, consumers have leaned on one-stop-shops such as Target and Walmart as well as delivery and supporting local businesses.

Home became our new hub – In 2020 (and likely beyond), home meant so much more. It’s now our school, gym, office, restaurant, and our refuge from the stressors of the world. Over the long-term, we’ll be looking at brands that support a multifunctional home where people want to spend time enjoying the comforts of that space.

Let the market research lead
While these shifts are coming to fruition for some consumer segments, it’s important to analyze your target audience and identify the common values most likely to influence their attitudes and behaviors. Conducting quick-turn and strategic research on how those values are evolving can uncover insights to inform critical developments to your brand. As you’ve likely noticed, change brought about by COVID-19 has been rapid, and will likely continue to shift as we enter a new phase of normal. Now is the time to analyze your target audiences’ changing value sets and use market research as your tool to be on message and on-brand with what is most important to consumers at this time.

Chris Hubble
Chris Hubble serves as CEO of market research and consumer insights agency Bastion db5 ( Before founding db5 in 2009, Chris served as Chief Executive Officer at Hall & Partners USA. Chris has 30+ years of experience in consumer insights with particular expertise in new product development, brand strategy, brand communications, and customer experience. He’s worked with over 50% of Fortune 500 clients. Bastion db5 has done work for Yahoo!, Verizon Media, and BuzzFeed.


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