As a marketer and researcher my job is to continually build the business case for Purpose. I do this because I believe business has the acumen, scale and efficiencies to be a powerful positive force for change. I research these data points so our clients and Purpose leaders across the space can prove to -C-suite executives and the world at large that Purpose can be a strong differentiator, a bottom-line boon – and quite frankly, the smartest way to do business today.
I cross the nation advocating for the positive business, brand and societal benefits of Purpose, touting 25 years of benchmark research, and yet, without fail, the question I’m most often asked is, “Yes, but how does Purpose compare when put up against cost and quality?” It’s a smart question. Because at the end of the day, what drives business growth will drive business investments.
And finally, I can respond with some compelling data.
Today, Cone and Porter Novelli launched a new study sharing the myriad benefits to companies leading with Purpose. The 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study is chock-full of data on consumer action and aspirations in relation to Purpose-driven brands, but I’ll zero-in on the question at hand.
Purpose Leads in Five of Eight Consumer Actions
In our latest research, we asked consumers which actions they’d be most likely to take based on the following brand attributes: “Purpose,” “low cost” or “high quality.” These actions spanned from pride in being associated with that brand to support of that company if it moved into their community.
The results revealed Purpose leading in five of eight ways consumers interact with brands. Americans felt strongly that they would have a more positive emotional connection (50%) to a Purpose-driven company over a company leading with low cost or quality. And perhaps because of that strong emotional connection, Purpose also took the lead in Americans’ willingness to defend (48%) Purpose brands over other brands. Purpose also trumped cost and quality when it came to sharing information or stories about that company (45%) and being proud to be associated with a company – such as prominently displaying a brand logo (42%).
It’s important to point out: low-cost never appeared as a leader in the minds of consumers – and their willingness to support brands that lead based on price are low. This reveals that sales promotions or transactional-based relationships will not differentiate or create the loyalty most brands seek.
But Don’t Discount the Importance of Quality
And yet, Purpose is no panacea. Shoppers of course see the importance of high-quality products. Quality topped Purpose and cost in terms of loyalty (40%), purchase (41%) and telling others to buy a product (44%).
Quality took the lead in the exact areas it should. To get consumers coming back, and back again, products and services should be of high quality. And we can’t expect consumers to sacrifice quality at point of purchase. Still, although quality is a primary factor in deciding what to buy and which brands to recommend to others, Purpose-driven companies stand to gain in the hearts, minds and passions of Americans. This shows us that while Purpose can’t be the only brand attribute marketers share, it is a powerful one.
The Bottom Line: Purpose Transcends Traditional Loyalty
Purpose has the ability to create far deeper emotional connections between brands and consumers – one that surpasses traditional loyalty – from pride in being associated with that brand to willingness to defend that company if someone spoke badly of it. This new level of devotion helps to future-proof a company while creating a group of enthusiastic advocates ready to share your brand message.
Now business executives and thought leaders have the data to prove how Purpose is not only competitive with cost and quality but can exceed it in many ways. To learn more about our newly released research and about the benefits of leading with Purpose, join “The Good Life through the Lens of Consumer Preferences: Aspiration vs. Reality” on Monday, June 4 at Sustainable Brands Vancouver.
Vice President, Marketing/Research & Insights
May 25, 2018