What Is Values-Based Marketing?

Learn about the renewed focus on an existing business concept and how it relates to credit unions.


Values-Based Marketing is a business term describing companies whose core values are tightly aligned with their business strategy. Common examples include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and The Body Shop. Consumers buy based as much on an emotional connection with protecting the Earth and animal rights, as their satisfaction with the ice cream and the cosmetics.

This concept is not new. But it is capturing the attention of companies across various industries. Kraft Foods, Inc., for example, became the first company to stop advertising junk food to children. When asked why they changed its marketing policy, CEO, Roger K. Deromedi said, “Our relationship with consumers is about trust. If you don’t align with society and you get out of step with that, then you’re going to destroy shareholder value.”

Values-Based Marketing is also visible in the financial services industry….and I am not (yet) referring to credit unions. ShoreBank, a community bank in the Chicago area, communicates the following mission to shareholders: Investing in people and their communities to create economic equity and a healthy environment. Its 2005 annual report proclaimed record-breaking performance in its financial, community development and conservation goals.

How Does It Apply to Credit Unions?

Because credit unions were founded on the concept of people helping people, the phrase “Values-Based Marketing” may sound like common sense. When asked, credit unions across the nation can rightfully boast about putting their values of doing what’s right for the member into action.

In Wisconsin, WESTconsin Credit Union ($479M in Menomonie, WI) developed a strategic partnership with a local agency to offer Jumpstart, an auto-assistance program. This program enabled over 100 low-income single parents to purchase much needed vehicles. In Maryland,
Securityplus Federal Credit Union ($271M in Baltimore, MD) partnered with a local check casher to offer the first full-service financial institution to over 21,000 Southwest Baltimore residents in 15 years.

Surely, there are stories of credit unions reaching out and doing what’s right for the member, but are we doing enough? Almost one year after Congress challenged credit unions to demonstrate their difference, have we made any progress? Companies in numerous industries and competition in our own are experiencing business success as socially responsible entities. Credit unions were founded upon this concept of being values-based. How can we better define and communicate our role in the financial services industry? I invite your reactions through the comments box below.




Aug. 28, 2006


  • This is what I wanted to know about Value-based marketing.
  • I agree with this statement and I wish to have more presentation in this
    Amit Budhathoki
  • I agree - especially in today's hyper-conscious environment, leading with your values can be a competitive tool for credit unions. But how do we ensure the message doesn't get lost or look like everyone else's?