- Nearly two-thirds (63%) of surveyed global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, and will avoid companies that don't, according to new Accenture research shared with Marketing Dive. Among consumers, 62% want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues that they care about the most.
- Sixty-five percent of Accenture respondents based purchase decisions on the words, values and actions of company leaders. Consumers are also drawn to brands that are committed to using good quality ingredients (76%), that treat employees well (65%) and that are focused on reducing plastics and improving the environment (62%). A company's ethical values and authenticity influences purchase consideration for 62% of consumers, and 74% said they want more transparency in how companies highlight issues like sourcing products, ensuring safe working conditions and enforcing policies on animal testing.
- Two-thirds of consumers think their protest actions, including boycotting brands or calling them out on social media, can make a difference in company behavior. Thirty-six percent reported being disappointed by how a company acted, which betrayed their belief in what the company stands for. Nearly half (47%) stopped doing business with a company in response to a moment of brand disappointment.
Historically, brands have opted to stay neutral on hot button issues of the day for fear of retaliation, but the latest Accenture report adds to a growing body of research that shows inaction on current political and social causes is proving increasingly alienating to consumers. Accenture found that a degradation of trust related to purpose can hinder competitiveness for a brand and cost potentially billions of dollars in revenue. But embracing purpose today also steps beyond simply sharing an opinion of a timely issue, and more often demands enacting a meaningful commitment to causes a company's core audience cares about.
The demand for brand purpose is clearly being felt by marketers at the top level as well. The ANA today (Dec. 6) announced that "Brand Purpose" is its marketing word of the year, according to details provided to Marketing Dive. Member marketers surveyed by the trade group noted that their companies have been reorganizing around the concept of purpose, and have seen others do the same. The ANA also recently launched a Center for Brand Purpose to help marketers devise purpose-led strategies and solutions.
It's a trend that's unlikely to cool in the near future. The researcher Forrester recently predicted that CMOs will exploit societal division to energize consumers and drive engagement with their brands in 2019. The opportunity here is high, as separate research from Edelman found that more than half of surveyed global consumers believe brands can do more to solve social problems than governments.
Brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a brand valuation increase of 175% over the past 12 years compared to the median growth rate of 86%, Kantar Consulting found. To build strong consumer connections and maintain a competitive edge, brands should embrace causes that make sense for the company rather than choosing a purpose that is trending at the moment.
Nike's recent "Just Do It" campaign starring the free agent NFL quarterback and social justice activist Colin Kaepernick has become a bellwether for brands successfully communicating purpose in their marketing while also driving business results. However, as a number of researchers have noted, including Forrester and now Accenture, the purpose-led approach must extend beyond one-off campaigns and statements to read as authentic. Nike, for example, has pledged to donate $5 million to organizations dedicated to ending gun violence, per the ANA news release.