American Values

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American Values

American values — and brands' relationships to these values — are ever-changing. Below, we have provided three studies that examine contemporary American values and brands' relationships to them: a 2018 report from Accenture, a 2017 report from Cone Communications, and a 2019 report from Clutch. We have also provided four studies (2017 and 2018 reports from the Public Religion Research Institute, a survey database from Pew Research, and a 2017 study from Baylor University) examining the topic of contemporary American values more broadly, utilizing extensive datasets to provide a more complete view of what those values are and who holds them.

1. Accenture's 2018 report on Purpose-Led Brands

  • Accenture published a report in 2018 titled "From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-Led Brand."
  • In it, the prominent firm discussed how Americans are increasingly gravitating toward brands that are perceived to be driven by various values (i.e., purpose-led).
  • One notable data set in this regard is the firm's finding that brands that fail to adhere to values prized by their target audience are paying the price more than ever: 53% of consumers complain when this is the case, 47% stop supporting the brand, and 17% never return to the brand.
  • The report also examines in more granular detail many of the specific values with which consumers are concerned. Two examples are transparency and environmentalism, which 66% and 62% of consumers say attracts them to a brand, respectively.

2. Cone Communications' 2017 CSR Report

  • Noted public relations firm Cone Communications produced a report in 2017 regarding corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it is driving brands' success or failure in the current American market.
  • The report found that a healthy majority of Americans will make purchasing decisions based on values: 87% will purchase a product or service based on values, while 76% will commit to a boycott based on values.
  • Again, the report examines some specific values with which consumers are concerned when it comes to the brands they support, such as "being a good employer" and "investing in causes in my community and around the globe."
  • The report also examines specific issues that consumers want brands to address, as well as how views on brands' relationships to American values breaks down in terms of age and, to a smaller degree, race.


3. Clutch's 2019 survey on how CSR and values influence purchasing decisions

  • Market research firm Clutch released a report in early 2019 detailing the results of the firm's recent survey regarding how brands' CSR efforts and adherence to various values influence consumers' purchasing decisions.
  • The report largely corroborates the findings of the first two studies; namely, that American consumers are increasingly concerned with certain values and how brands represent them in their messaging and product offerings.
  • For example, the survey found that 75% of consumers are inclined to start shopping at a brand with which their values are aligned. Surprisingly, it found that only 44% said that price is among the most important attributes of a brand, compared to 71% for environmentalism and 68% for both social responsibility and community involvement.
  • Despite consumers' strong preference for values-driven messaging from brands, the study finds that they are largely divided on why brands use this kind of messaging, with 29% believing it is to earn more revenue, 28% believing it is to genuinely support an issue, 20% believing it is to cater to a specific audience, and 19% believing it is to bolster media coverage.

4. PRRI's 2017 American Values Report

  • Nonprofit, nonpartisan research agency Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)'s 2017 installment of its annual American values report details Americans' adherence to specific values and stances on various issues.
  • The report is extensive, covering political and policy issues, stances on current events, and stances on broader ideological topics.
  • Some specific American values that the report examines are the country's approach to immigration, the morality of American foreign policy on the world stage, and free trade, among many others.

5. PRRI's 2018 American Values report

  • The 2018 installment of PRRI's American values report does not update the findings of the 2017 report, but rather provides entirely new findings on a range of different issues and values.
  • Like the 2017 report, PRRI's 2018 report addresses Americans' stances on numerous current events, while also illustrating the stances that Americans take on various values.
  • For example, the 2018 report examines in detail sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, using this prominent social issue to illustrate how Americans' values and beliefs in this area break down across various groups such as gender and political orientation.

6. Pew's decades-spanning American Values Survey

  • Preeminent research firm Pew Research provides a database of survey findings over the past several decades on a range of values.
  • This dataset is most useful in examining how adherence to certain religious, social and political values has changed (or remained constant) among Americans over the past several decades.
  • The data can also be broken down by political party, sex, age, generation, race, education level, income, and religious preference, allowing for a highly granular examination of Americans' adherence to various values over time.

7. Baylor University's 2017 American Values Survey

  • Baylor University researchers released Wave 5 of its Religion Survey in 2017, titled "American Values, Mental Health, and Using Technology in the Age of Trump."
  • This iteration of the university's Religion Survey provides details about the core values of supporters of President Trump, how religious values intersect with politics and technology in contemporary America, and the specific beliefs and values that Americans hold, particularly with regard to religion and politics.
  • One compelling aspect of this report is its examination of how religious values, politics, and mental health interact in current-day America using detailed and far-reaching survey data.

Your research team employed the following strategy:

To find the above studies regarding American values, we conducted an extensive search of noted American companies, research firms, and organizations conducting research in this space. We first selected three studies produced by reputable entities describing the relationship between American values and how brands are impacted by them. After this was complete, we expanded our search to find studies that addressed the question of American values more broadly. This expansion allowed us to choose four studies on the subject that are both extensive and authoritative, leveraging large datasets to, in their totality, provide a more complete picture of what contemporary American values are, who believes in them, and to what extent those beliefs are held.
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