Business and marketing today have acquired new complexities. It is no longer about simply reaching out to masses with particularities of your product but conveying a clearly articulated purpose. Consumers cannot be reduced to people who merely buy products but have to be acknowledged as vigilant citizens who want the world to be a better place. Accordingly, what a brand stands for and how it defines itself plays an incontestably significant role in the chord it strikes with consumers. This is where purpose-driven advertising and marketing becomes a most crucial intervention.
A report by Epsilon, summarizing a few surveys provides attestation to the relevance of making purpose central to marketing. Sixty-four percent of consumers say they’ll buy or boycott a brand depending on its stance on a social or political issue, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer.
And the 2020 Strength of Purpose study from communications agency Zeno Group found that when a brand has a strong purpose, consumers are four times more likely to purchase from the brand. Furthermore, brands with an active purpose outperformed the stock market by 134 per cent and saw their share of wallet multiply by nine, according to Meaningful Brands 2019 by Havas Media Group.
Thus, advertising your brand in alignment with the purpose of your brand is aligned with can have the most direct consequences for the success of your company.
To start with, we must mull over the meaning of “purpose” itself. The purpose of a brand is defined by the core values that drive its endeavors, the impact it wants to make and the social causes it believes in. For example, a garment brand’s goal to sell clothes to people is a business necessity. However, its purpose is outlined by the kind of clothes it wants to sell, the value it creates for its consumers, whether its in sustainable production and supports the community that contributes to it or not.
On a related note, we must rethink the importance of conscious advertising. In today’s era of digital marketing, the reach your brand has is more than ever before. While this is an opportunity, it is worth noting that your marketing campaigns are now open to huge amounts of reception, feedback and criticism. A consumer online has the wherewithal to discern and instantly flag problematic elements in a campaign.
Therefore, it would be short-sighted to think of the key objective of advertising to be making consumers aware of your product. Today, marketing must bolster your brand’s credibility for it to stay in the race.
There are several examples of brands that link purpose, advertisement and endeavor successfully. Cheryl Baldwin, writing for WSJ, takes a look at the Adidas and Parley product line in this regard. Adidas’ purpose-driven marketing efforts for this particular collaboration were centered around the ocean plastic epidemic.
Their campaign video took us on a journey and did a deep dive into how ocean plastics negatively affect our oceans’ ecosystem. Adidas effectively realigned its efforts to their brand by spinning the problem into a solution and creating high-performance sportswear that is made out of plastic. As Baldwin remarks, the lesson here is that the cause you are supporting becomes a part of your brand narrative, which is a driving factor that determines who will support, buy from, and invest in your business.
Such combinations can be carefully worked out with strategic recalibrations of your marketing efforts. First of all, the content you create has to be a tool to communicate what you do as a brand, instead of simply telling people what you are offering. Secondly, you must articulate the mission you are on and what you stand for. Thirdly, to integrate brand endeavor and advertisement, transparency is necessary. Accordingly, the marketing campaigns can demonstrate the real-life impact the business is causing and how committed it has been to the values it proclaims to uphold.
In the words of Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Purpose-driven advertising is about the expectations consumers can have of your brand, the narratives you weave by documenting the impact you have made and ultimately the relationship you consequently foster with your customers. All of these undoubtedly also have financial rewards at the end. Thus, in the era of a more alert citizenry and more conscious business efforts, purpose-driven advertising can be the instrumental step towards a more conscious market that drives progressive change.
(The author is Chief Impact Officer at Recykal Foundation)