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16 August 2019 laia

Purpose driven marketing

Unpacking the new buzz word and what it means for marketers

The world of advertising and communications is a crowded place, with a plethora of brands – many selling similar offerings – fighting for the same target audience and consumer spend. In this jungle of mixed messages and consumer confusion, brands need to find a strategy to cut through the noise effectively, while wisely using the budget available to them.

One method that many brands are currently finding success with is purpose-driven marketing – an approach that sees brands leading with their social purpose, while placing significantly less focus on products or services. Purpose-led communications can forge a strong relationship with target audiences based on shared values and beliefs, with consumers often choosing to support and show loyalty to a brand as a result of the bond they have emotionally built over these shared ethics.

Research tells us that eight out of 10 customers are more loyal to cause-driven brands, and that 37% of millennials will purchase a product or service that supports a cause they believe in – even if it means paying extra. According to a recent global Accenture study, two-thirds of consumers opt to purchase products from a company that stands for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, and will avoid companies that do not.

In a world of untruths and deception, consumers are looking for authenticity, and when brands engage in social issues that they believe in (and put their money where their mouth is), they are more likely to earn trust and loyalty amongst target audiences.

An example of a globally-recognised, purpose-led brand is P&G, which strives to do what is right and be a force for good. One of the key causes that the brand strives to make a difference in is gender equality, and the Always #LikeAGirl campaign brought this to life beautifully. The campaign was built on the fact that 50% of girls experience a huge drop in confidence at puberty, and the common phase ‘like a girl’ was used to illustrate the profound effect that words can have on girls at this stage. The award-winning campaign had a lasting impact, with research proving that after the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, 76% of respondents now consider the phrase a positive expression (up from 19%).

Not only do these purpose-driven campaigns make us feel warm and fuzzy inside – they can have a significant impact on a business’s bottom line. Proof of this is Unilever revealing in 2018 that its most sustainable brands grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of its turnover growth.

Research conducted by Harvard Business Review also confirms that purpose-driven companies can be more profitable if the purpose is part of its strategy and communicated throughout the organisation. To truly succeed however, brands need to continually show customers that they are genuinely invested in this purpose, and that it is not just a ‘front’ for marketing or advertising purposes.

So will this strategy continue to work? More than likely, yes. Purpose-driven marketing is an impactful (and proven) method of communicating by building real trust among customers, who, over time, have often lost their faith in brands and advertising. To maintain this authenticity, the ongoing challenge for brands is to ensure that they live and breathe this purpose, and that the purpose lives within the marketing campaign.

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Cara Kruger Director cara.kruger@mslgroup.com

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