Four Ways eCommerce Brands Are Using Social Media to Attract Values-Based Shoppers
The year 2020 caused a seismic shift in the world of eCommerce. As billions of people around the world experienced lockdowns, many turned to online shopping as a safer alternative to in-person shopping. That year saw a 26% increase in revenue generated by eCommerce.
While the following year only saw a 17% growth rate, eMarketer also predicts double-digit increases for the next three years. The change kick-started by the global pandemic will continue to affect eCommerce for years to come.
However, the increase in online spending isn’t the only change, or even the most important one, to shake up eCommerce during the last two years. Consumers have also changed the way they spend their money online. During the early months of the pandemic, consumers focused their spending on essential goods. As lockdowns gave consumers more time for self-reflection, many also began to carefully evaluate which businesses should receive their money.
Half of consumers in a recent survey stated that the pandemic caused them to rethink their purpose and values. Over 40% decided they needed to focus more on others than on themselves.
As a result, many consumers are looking more deeply into the values of the brands they shop from and changing their spending habits. Nowadays, over half of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand if they believe it reflects their values. A significant portion of consumers are also willing to pay more for products that have a positive impact on the world or to switch to a different company that takes visible actions toward that end.
But how can eCommerce brands communicate their values in an authentic way that will resonate with today’s more mindful shoppers? In our post about appealing to younger demographics [link to my “How Young Consumers Are Changing eCommerce” blog], we discussed the importance of using social media to establish rapport and trust with consumers.
Today, we’ll take a look at a few eCommerce businesses that are putting the power of social media to work communicating their brand values. These brands all employ a few key principles: transparency, consistency, empathy, and passion. Below, we’ll discuss how your brand can put these principles to work to convey your values on social media.
The well-informed consumers dominating the eCommerce space of today demand transparency from the brands they shop, whether that’s well-established brands or small and emerging businesses. They want to know about the brand’s supply chain, whether out of concern for its environmental and ethical impacts or for the delays and difficulties caused by shortages. They also want to know about the measures brands are taking to ensure they live up to their values in every aspect of the creation, sale, and marketing of their products.
Transparency not only shows you truly are committed to the values your brand claims to have, but it also helps create a sense of connection between your brand and your customers. People can’t relate to a faceless corporation, but if you are honest about your business’s struggles, efforts, and triumphs, you will become much more relatable.
A great example of a brand using earnest transparency to show their commitment to their values on social media is Davaar & Co, a wool sweater brand out of New Zealand. Even though the brand only launched its first line of sweaters in February of 2022, it already has a significant presence on social media, which has helped it grow a loyal customer base.
Through pictures and short-form videos on Instagram, the brand illustrates its sustainable supply chain by documenting the process of raising and shearing sheep on the founder’s family farm. The videos also show the wool processing, knitting, and shipping that occurs at a local level in New Zealand. Some posts even provide behind-the-scenes footage of photo shoots, emphasizing the human element of everything the brand does.
Davaar is based in a family sheep farm that produces all the wool used by the brand. The founder of the company, Kate Macdonald, created Davaar out of love for New Zealand, her family business, and homemade sweaters. Through posts that illustrate life on the Macdonald family farm, the New Zealand landscape, and the brand’s family-like atmosphere, Davaar has created a social media presence steeped in its values.
Another key to successfully marketing your brand’s values on social media is consistency. A brand that displays identifiable core values, aesthetics, and voice is going to be much more recognizable. Sticking to those foundations as you build your presence online is essential to creating an authentic, attractive image.
Branding refers to the gut feeling that consumers have about a particular business. Your business can’t control the feelings consumers have, but by providing consistent marketing content that reinforces the story, values, and vision of the company, you can encourage those feelings over time.
Your brand’s values will influence all your decisions, regardless of whether you have defined those values yet. Determine your brand’s values and make sure every bit of copy you write, whether it’s social media posts or product descriptions, reflect those core components of your brand’s identity.
One brand that communicates its values and purpose with great consistency is S’well. This reusable luxury water bottle company, founded in 2010, has marketed its products consistently for over a decade as stylish accessories that are good for the environment. It has since expanded its products to include reusable food containers that match the aesthetics and function of its water bottles.
The company’s social media presence is tailored to its ideal customer: a modern, affluent, stylish buyer concerned about the environment, self-care, and health. Its posts not only contain a unified aesthetic that matches the clean, modern look of its bottles, but also emphasize its values consistently. The brand shares content about recycling, the negative impact of single-use plastics, the company’s efforts to help frontline workers, and even healthy snacks.
By laser-targeting its niche and communicating its purpose in a way that appeals hugely to the emerging market for luxury sustainable products, S’well has managed to sell over 20 million water bottles across over sixty countries and become one of the fastest-growing female-owned companies in the world. Its branding is so powerful that its bottles have even become a status symbol for its customers.
As we covered in our post about personalization in eCommerce, today’s consumers want to feel they have a personal connection with a company that they make a purchase from. While many shoppers want to buy from brands that care about the world around them, they also want brands that care about their customers’ well-being. Showing empathy towards your customers is a great way to establish a meaningful connection with them and show them you’re a brand worth supporting.
Most brands and products were created to fill a need or niche identified in the market. They were created to solve a problem or improve some aspect of people’s lives. By showing empathy toward your customers’ shared problem and celebrating the way your product can make your customers happier, your brand’s story becomes much more customer-centric. This way, customers will find it much easier to relate to your brand.
Pepper is a brand that specializes in underwear for smaller-chested people. It was created by founders Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd to fill a specific need for customers who couldn’t find properly fitted underwear in mainstream stores. Pepper’s social media presence is full of empathy, focused on creating a connection between customers who share the same frustrations with traditional beauty standards—as well as between those customers and the brand.
Pepper has a legion of loyal, engaged fans who recommend the brand’s products to their friends. Pepper’s most empathetic posts about the problems the target audience faces, such as the post in the screenshot above, get the most engagement, accumulating thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.
If your social media presence doesn’t express passion for your values and your brand, it won’t spark passion in your audience. Going back to the questions of transparency and authenticity, customers want to make sure brands aren’t just ticking boxes to jump on the latest fad like sustainability or body positivity. Customers want to know that you and your brand actually care about the issues and products you highlight.
Passion can be expressed in many different forms, depending on your brand’s aesthetic and voice. Some brands have a casual voice and express their passion with memes, jokes, and anecdotes. Other brands are more sleek and refined, but they can still express their passion by highlighting their story, their journey, and their team.
Jungalow, a lifestyle brand helmed by designer Justina Blakeney, has millions of followers on social media thanks to the bold, attractive room designs the brand shares to showcase its products. The brand’s social media presence is bursting with passion, with lovingly crafted images and poetic descriptions, and followers respond with enthusiasm.
Jungalow’s social media presence is so steeped in its values that its mission is the first line of text in its profile description: “MISSION: Bring good vibes home.” Each post is dedicated to spreading those “good vibes” by sharing beautiful designs and inspirational content.
Your Brand on Social Media
As these businesses demonstrate, social media is a powerful tool for connecting with customers who want to get to know your brand, understand your values, and share in the passion for your products. 41% of consumers discover new brands through social media, especially platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Before even seeing your website, many customers use social media to get an idea of your brand values and make sure they can feel good about purchasing your products.
Which Platform Should You Use?
With so many social media platforms available, it might seem like you need to build a presence for your brand on all of them. But remember that different platforms have different personalities and audiences. You should decide which channels to focus on based on your target audience, product type, aesthetics, and voice.
The four brands we highlighted in this post are well-suited to Instagram thanks to their younger customer base, visually appealing and stylish products, and casual, relatable voices. Instagram Stories are an excellent medium for highlighting different aspects of a brand that a potential customer might want to research, such as sustainability, design, fit, product categories, and more.
What Should You Post?
Wherever you choose to post, always prioritize visual content. Images tend to do better than text, and short-form videos do even better. While attractive photos of your products are important, don’t forget to include pictures of your team, images or videos of your process, and even the occasional meme if it fits your voice.
Sharing user-generated content (UGC) on social media platforms and even on your website can help you increase the sense of community around your brand. When users tag your brand and share photos, posts, or videos about your products, make sure to repost your favorites. UGC is a great way of increasing engagement and connection.
Audiences don’t just forge a connection with products. They latch onto people—their stories, struggles, triumphs, and personalities. Allow audiences to get to know you, verifying for themselves that you and your brand really do embody the values you claim.
A Few Final Reminders
By structuring your social media strategy around your core principles, you can craft an authentic, values-based brand. Make sure to be transparent, showing all the effort that goes into running your business in a way that helps you achieve your vision. Maintain consistency by ensuring each post embodies your principles. Show empathy by acknowledging your customers’ struggles (in many cases, the people behind a brand share those struggles, too!) and communicate your passion by celebrating the place your brand has in their lives, and yours.
And remember, you don’t have to do all this alone. We have a variety of services that can make building your values-based brand much more achievable. Our all-inclusive eCommerce packages include an elite marketing strategy as well as product research analysis and website development, freeing you up to dream big and grow your business. Contact our team today to find out more about our services.