Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024

Mad Ave. Insights


In a previous column, “Your Consumer is Now Your Pied Piper,” I pointed out that today’s consumers have high demands on companies they deal with.

One area of expectation is your company’s core values. What values do you ascribe to? What values do you live by?

HBR defines core values as “the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions [and] serve as its cultural cornerstones.” YourDictionary describes them as “the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization, [which] dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong.”


Marketing as lived by for over a century was leading and persuading. Today’s marketing centers around building a relationship. The consumer wants to be able to identify with you. Shared values are essential, if not critical.

Rather than talk from a theoretical perspective, I believe actual examples will demonstrate how seriously major corporations understand the value of values in building a relationship with their consumers. I chose companies with whom you are familiar so you can easily recognize how their values translate into reality.

Adidas expresses its values in a language that is both true to its brand image and its values.

Adidas is not about selling sports products. It is about sports, seeking to elevate a full range of sports to the pinnacle that sports enthusiasts live by.

“Everything we do is rooted in sport. Sport plays an increasingly important role in more and more people’s lives, on and off the field of play. It is central to every culture and society and is core to our health and happiness.”

  • Purpose: Through sport, we have the power to change lives.
  • Mission: To be the best sports company in the world.
  • Values: Athletes will not settle for average. And neither do we. We have a clear mission: To be the best sports company in the world. Every day, we come to work to create and sell the best sports and fitness products in the world, and to offer the best service and consumer experience—and to do it all in a sustainable way. To successfully do that, we focus entirely on our authentic sports brands as they connect and engage with our consumers.”

It is all about winning—improving their competitive position, achieving peak performance—and, in that Adidas’ values match those of their customers.

Starbucks took what is essentially a commodity – and indeed was always treated as such – and turned it into a lifestyle. It did so by seeing beyond the bean and the roast, seeing it instead through the eyes of consumer.

In Europe and the Middle East, coffee shops are not a destination to simply grab a ‘cuppa.’ They are a means of bonding. A place to catch up with the latest, to converse, to socialize. They are places where communities of two, three, fifteen, any number, are formed, nurtured, thrive.

“With our partners, our coffee and our customers at our core, we live these values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo, and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.”

Howard Schultz, founder and CEO of Starbucks, summarizes it pithily: “We’re in the business of human connection and humanity, creating communities in a third place between home and work.”

If you ever visited a Trader Joe’s, probably the first thought that comes to mind is: “It isn’t my mother’s grocery store.” Trader Joe’s exudes an atmosphere of quirkiness, from the signage to the range of products your mother, and grandmother, going back three generations, never thought of. And, of course, not to forget their employees in their Hawaiian shirts and the ship’s bell that lets an employee know their needed.

And who can miss their Fearless Flyer?

Trader Joe’s values are:

  • Producing customer wow experiences
  • Kaizen (a Japanese word that literally means “change for the better”)
  • Treating its store as a brand
  • Integrity
  • We want our customers’ experience while shopping in our stores to be rewarding, eventful and fun. Our helpful, friendly crew members take care in maintaining safe and inviting neighborhood stores; in crafting creative, informative signage to support our customers’ understanding of our products; and in creating a store environment that imparts adventure, humor and a warm sense of community
  • Being product driven

Simply put, every time a customer shops with us, we want them to be able to say, “Wow! That was enjoyable, and I got a great deal. I look forward to coming back!”

Patagonia is another company whose environmental conservatism and activism values and those of its customers are one and the same.

  • Build the best product

Our criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability.                Among the most direct ways we can limit ecological impacts is with goods that last for generations or can be recycled so the materials in them remain in use. Making the best product matters for saving the planet.

  • Cause no unnecessary harm

We know that our business activity—from lighting stores to dyeing shirts—is part of the          problem. We work steadily to change our business practices and share what we’ve learned. But we recognize that this is not enough. We seek not only to do less harm, but more good.

  • Use business to protect nature

The challenges we face as a society require leadership. Once we identify a problem, we act. We embrace risk and act to protect and restore the stability, integrity and beauty of the web of life.

  • Not bound by convention

Our success—and much of the fun—lies in developing new ways to do things.

The above are examples of core values that permeate every nook and cranny of successful companies and are vital reasons for their success. What they all have in common is that they emanate from humans (yes, I am even referring to founders and c-suite executives) and represent a humanistic approach to their purpose of being, and the purpose of their actions. There is an honesty, and integrity, a deep and lasting commitment at every stage of product research and development, sales and marketing, communications and advertising, customer service and returns.

But equally, and more importantly, their core values reach out beyond the company environment to the communities, local, national, international, that their core business serves.

And, finally, the values are honest to the company. They are not duplicating the values of other companies. They represent what is important to them.

And, perhaps just to provide some motivational impetus, this from a Glassdoor survey: “Nearly 80% of respondents would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying for a job, and over half said that ‘company value culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.’”

And, to dangle a reward before you, Jeff Bezos stated: “…set out to be the most consumer-centric company in the world.”

Having core values and living up to them can do wonders to your lifestyle.

Interested in developing your creative thinking skills to grow your business? Maybe even disrupt your business category? Subscribe to my “Unleash Your Creative Thinking” free email course. Email bullseyemarketing1@gmail.com, with “Creative Thinking” as the subject.




Chanina Katz has over two decades experience in major Madison Ave. ad agencies developing highly successful strategies and award-winning campaigns for such blue-chip clients as Colgate, RJ Reynolds, Hilton, Home Depot, General Mills, KFC and many others in a wide variety of package goods and services businesses. He provides marketing services for a range of businesses, from start-ups to major corporations. He lectures on marketing and creativity. He can be reached at Bullseyemarketing1@gmail.com.



My Take on the News

  Hostility in the Court This week’s top story, without a doubt, was the Supreme Court hearing this Sunday that dealt with the draft of

Read More »


Subscribe to stay updated