Why brands need a ‘purpose’ to ensure future growth

17 March 2021 | 5 min read | News
Portrait photo of Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

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As a PR agency, our job is to manage the reputations of the clients we work with, increase awareness of their brand, improve the perception others have of them, and ensure they are seen, read and heard by the right people in the right way, and at the right time. But in the last few months, things have changed.

In this video, I seek to lift the lid on how consumer purchasing decisions have been transformed by the pandemic, and why brands need a ‘purpose’ to ensure future growth.

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If you’d rather read than watch and listen, a transcript of the video is below.

Your customers, clients, consumers, however you describe the people who engage with your brand and business, have changed – markedly so – in the last few months.

For years, we’ve been saying to get your target market choosing you rather than your competitors, you must address the what’s in it for me factor first… to say ‘Hey, if you buy from us, this is what you’ll get by way of a return on that investment.

But, that’s no longer enough. Today, as a direct consequence of the corornavirus pandemic, your customers’ purchasing decisions are by and large being driven by what your brand or business stands for. Why do you do what you do?

This is not some sort of Simon Sinek tribute video, although he is right – your ‘why’ you are in business in the first place is important. However, where the ‘Why’ man himself has left off, we pick up with the results of an extensive piece of market research published this month.

We wanted to determine how the last few months have changed – if at all – the way in which brands and businesses will position themselves as we emerge from the crisis.

To do this, we canvassed the opinions of over 500 CEOs, C-suite executives, Founders and Managing directors – to be precise, we had 502 respondents take part in our study.

What we discovered was encouraging, if not a little frustrating.

For example,

  • 7 out of 10 UK business leaders believe that the global pandemic will accelerate the move towards a more purpose-led society.
  • 61 per cent stated that they would choose a supplier with a clear social purpose over one that doesn’t. And,
  • 80 per cent said they would do so even if that supplier was more expensive than the next alternative.

What I find frustrating in all of this, is the pathetically slow pace at which some brands and businesses are adapting and evolving – how many are ‘waiting to see’ what happens, perhaps in the hope that consumer attitudes will shift the other way and revert back to not giving too much of a crap about what a brand stands for.

Err sorry, this isn’t going to happen and if you wait in the hope it will, you’re going fall by the wheyside. And deservedly so.

Businesses and brands can no longer pay lip service to the idea of contributing to society in some meaningful way. Having a CSR policy is all well and good, but it falls short of having a real purpose and two are different entities altogether:

CSR is how a brand gives back to its community and supports worthy causes.

Brandpurpose’ is causally linked to what your company does to advance a cause.

Take Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, as a case in point.

Patagonia’s purpose is for me one of the finest examples around of what I mean. They state their reason for existing is “to save our home planet.” Brilliant in its simplicity.

You can fart around all day trying to create a beautifully crafted vision statement for your business but believe me, the chances are extremely high that what you have now – if it has remained unchanged since the turn of this year – is not fit for purpose in today’s ultra-conscious purpose-driven consumer world.

As we saw during the height of the pandemic, consumers are shunning those businesses whose only intention is to maintain a relationship with them on the proviso it yields a monetary return.

Consumer purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by what brands and businesses stand for – their purpose. And to remain competitive and return to growth, brands will have to prioritise social purpose over profits in line with shifting consumer attitudes.

We dive a lot deeper into this in our whitepaper, entitled “The role of brand purpose in the pandemic and post pandemic economy”.

If you’re a business leader or responsible for the reputation  management, profile and marketing of your brand, the views and insights covered in this paper will help you to better position your organisation for growth in the coming months, year and beyond.

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