Posted: 18 Jun. 2020 4 min.

The crisis is changing customer behaviour, but not customer values

Topic: Consumer

While the current pandemic is changing how customers act, it might not change what they really value.

In my last blog on LinkedIn and, I wrote about the massive changes in customer behaviour we are seeing right now as a result of the global pandemic. My key message was that the crisis is not only an opportunity to fuel your digital experience – it is also a call to collect, analyse, and develop actionable insights through a revived and data-driven customer segmentation.

This time, however, I want to go one step deeper into the minds and hearts of the consumers. Because although consumers may change behaviour over time, what research shows is that their core values actually stay the same – something every marketeer and executive should know.

To get a better understanding of this, we need to look at some of the fundamental motivations that drive our feelings and actions. This, we could call the four cardinal human values, rooted in either personal achievement (Me), belonging (We), curiosity (Unknown) or control (Known).

  • "Me” includes people who are driven by ambition and getting ahead. They are motivated by challenges and working on their flaws and weaknesses. They chase after achievement and respond to goal-oriented experiences.
  • “We” includes people who are driven by belonging and the support of other people. They are motivated by acceptance by others and enjoy experiences that foster a sense of community.
  • “Known” includes people who are driven by control and safety. They are conservative and tend to trust in tradition over new ideas because they prefer things that have worked before.
  • Finally, “Unknown” includes people who are driven by curiosity and creativity. They are motivated by experiences that encourage imagination and enjoy developing new ideas.

Putting these values on two axes, we get a total of eight different consumer groups, each with a distinct set of values: ambition, trying new things, curiosity, sharing, belonging, caring for others, control, and learning new things.


Elevating the human experience
The big question, of course, is how can companies use this knowledge to form closer relationships with their customers in this time of crisis? Here are three lessons I want to share:

First, it is not a questions of right or wrong values, but actually identifying your customers’ values, acknowledging those values and bringing them into closer alignment with your organisation to foster loyalty. Yes, this is not an easy exercise. In a recent 3,000-person poll performed by Deloitte, the significant majority of C-suite executives said that they believe elevating the human experience should be a top priority for their organisation, yet 96 percent of them struggled to design and launch anything that delivered on this vision.2

Second, what we should realise is that although the current pandemic is changing behaviours, for the most part, the core values of customers remain intact. How old we are, what we buy, where we live isn’t the only things that matter. What drives our feelings and actions in a post-pandemic world are the values we use to approach the world in the first place: are we ambition-focused or belonging-focused, comfortable with the unknown or seeking control? And while these values may temporarily fluctuate based on current events, it’s important to remember that values are built over a lifetime. Therefore, companies will be better positioned to recover faster by identifying, communicating, and acting upon what drives and motivates humans.

Third, what many of us have come to realise during these last few years of intense digitalisation in the corporate world, is that most companies can digitise if they put their minds to it, but few can digitise with a human touch. Even the most stunning user interface can in fact create a human deficit. If companies are not communicating authentically and empathetically, customers will eventually leave. Digital interaction with no human connection is for the most part unsatisfying, uninteresting and unhealthy.

What it all comes down to is the necessity for companies to re-connect with their customers and create human experiences in the post-corona digital world. At the heart of the human condition is a desire for connection, to feel valued, to be seen and heard. We value being connected to something bigger than ourselves. We value self-exploration and self-mastery. We value exploration and discovery. We value safety and security. If these values are unchanging, they are worth exploring and understanding more deeply.

The simple question is what will enable a connection with our customers in this moment? What stories will resonate most? What experiences can we create? What senses can we engage to evoke a feeling?

Now, more than ever, it is the human experience that matters.

Sources: & Deloitte Dbriefs tech trends survey, “Designing emotionally intelligent human experiences”, January 9, 2020.

Forfatter spotlight

Martin Nyrop

Martin Nyrop

Managing Partner for Consulting
$(document.head).append(''); $(document.head).append('