Today’s consumers are smart, vocal, and able and willing to affect social change. How can brands resonate with this new values-based group? Deloitte Digital's Laura Anderson reports on this discussion from the Forrester Consumer Marketing Conference.

Recently I sat in a room surrounded by the some of the best, brightest, and sharpest minds in marketing.

From Joanna Coles of Hearst Magazines to Danielle Lee of Spotify, Billie Whitehouse of Wearable X and a number of other special keynote speakers, the Forrester Consumer Marketing Conference converged data points with strategic themes, business case studies with personal experiences to inspire and teach how to master marketing in an age of turbulence.

As each speaker took the stage, a key theme weaved all the presentations together: humanizing brands.

Long gone are the days of passive consumers. Today’s consumer is smart, vocal, and able and willing to affect social change. From the masses of digital users who we’ve seen band together through social networks to bring awareness to causes they believe in to a teenage guy in Nevada trying to get free chicken nuggets, consumers everywhere have the power to create lasting change through social impact movements.

As a result, nearly all keynote speakers at the Forrester Consumer Marketing conference acknowledged that consumer brands cannot be silent anymore. Consumers want and expect brands they trust to speak up about the values they stand for. As Anjali Lai, an analyst at Forrester, quoted in her presentation, “Brands have to take a side because the public expects them to. The days of being neutral are over.”

What’s more is 52 percent of consumers (1) evaluate a company’s values when making a purchase. So, how can brands resonate with this new values-based consumer?

  • Understand that customers crave deeper emotional connections in a digital world. Declare your brand’s values through emotional storytelling.
  • Customers trust the brands that reflect their own identity. Align your brand with issues your consumers care about most.
  • Customers seek meaningful experiences. Invite consumers to participate in your brand’s cause to evoke a sense of solidarity.

Authenticity in brands matter. Brands who succeed in building authenticity by delivering on their promises and harnessing these human touchpoints will likely not only inspire audiences, they will attract tribes.

Laura Anderson is a senior digital strategist at the Deloitte Digital studio, Deloitte Consulting LLP in Seattle. She has a master of communication in digital media from the University of Washington. Follow her on Twitter.

(1): Forrester Data Consumer Technographics ® North American Omnibus Survey, 2017 (US)