Moral values and emotions play an increasingly important role in consumer decisions

Research has found that consumers are increasingly likely to support companies that take a stand on social issues and to boycott those that do not. This trend confirms Daniel Kahneman’s theory that personal preferences and moral values play a crucial role in consumers’ purchase decisions.

According to the research of psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman, people make decisions based on their personal preferences and moral values in order to satisfy their emotional and psychological needs. Making decisions based on values means that consumers consider their own moral and ethical convictions in their purchases, as opposed to making purely rational decisions, such as buying the lowest cost product.

In Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, he suggests that humans have two different cognitive systems involved in decision making – System 1 and System 2 – which shows that we aren’t as rational as we might like to think.

Values-driven consumers

Previously, values-driven commerce has been linked to the younger generation, Gen Z. They have grown up with the internet and social media, where it is possible for everyone to share opinions, values, and thoughts on a larger scale than was previously possible. By 2030, Gen Z will constitute a full 40 percent of all individuals of working age, as well as the largest consumer group.

Store staff need to be more attuned to customers’ feelings and moral values, as they may outweigh strictly rational considerations.

This means that the brand and its ethical stance play an increasingly important role for the consumer. Here, we have listed a few trending moral considerations that are often more decisive than price and quality for consumers today.

Trending moral values for consumers:

  • Sustainability and environmental responsibility: Consumers are growing increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and prefer to buy from companies that participate in sustainability initiatives, use renewable resources, reduce waste, and maintain environmentally friendly production methods.
  • Ethical business practices: Consumers care about whether companies treat their employees well, comply with labor standards, and are socially responsible. They prefer to shop from companiesthat care about human rights and working conditions, and make a positive contribution to society.
  • Animal rights: Animal rights are another important factor for many consumers. They choose to buy products from companies that do not test their products on animals, offer animal-friendly alternatives, or are engaged in combating animal cruelty.
  • Social responsibility: Consumers may also focus on companies that actively support charities and community projects. They are keen to support companies that help to solve social problems and make positive changes in society.
  • Transparency and honesty: Consumers demand openness from companies when it comes to the production process, ingredients, labeling standards, and information about the product’s origin. They want access to reliable and transparent information in order to make informed purchase decisions.
  • Personal identity and self-expression: For some consumers, purchasing decisions become part of their personal identity and self-expression. They buy products and choose brands that reflect their values and help reinforce their personal image.


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