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Core Values as a Competitive Advantage

By Jami Gibson

Why do we do what we do? How do our core values influence the way we do business?

Successful companies almost always know the answers to these questions. When we base our products and services on our company’s values, we gain a competitive advantage over other firms offering the same benefits. If a customer can identify with a company’s beliefs and values, it builds trust and loyalty.

For example, let’s focus on Whole Foods Market. The company’s core values are spelled out on their website and include such values as selling the highest quality natural and organic products and promoting healthy eating education. Although other local grocers may offer a selection of natural and organic items, chances are that shoppers who value an organic lifestyle, sustainable agriculture, and healthy eating will frequent Whole Foods Market to meet their needs.

Another example of a company who holds true to their core beliefs is Starbucks. They value ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship, and community involvement. Customers who truly identify with their causes and appreciate their values are willing to pay a premium for their beverages as opposed to purchasing coffee from a less expensive vendor.

Imagine working for or doing business with a company whose values are not clearly defined. This could present many challenges. The employees may know what their company does and how they do it, but if each employee and executive puts their own spin on why the company does what it does, there is no consistency within the business and no differentiating factors to their potential customers. When companies have a clear purpose for their existence, it infiltrates every aspect of their business (i.e. operations, leadership, hiring decisions, marketing, etc). This basic philosophy guides them through both the peaks and the valleys, and creates the opportunity for the firm, its employees, and customers to work together for a greater good.

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