Buyers today care about more than your product. When buyers make purchase decisions, they often factor in whether the brand is one they wish to align with—based on the brand’s social and political stances and other considerations.
Over the past few years, surveys have consistently shown that more consumers are factoring a company’s values into their buying decisions. Two-thirds of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue, according to the global PR firm Edelman’s research.Avoiding social issues entirely is viewed negatively by consumers—as a sign that a brand doesn’t care.
And it’s not just buyers; it’s employees, too. Jobseekers increasingly seek to work for employers that stand for something besides profits.
How should a brand navigate these new expectations?
You have three choices.
Brands have every right to choose the first or second option. Consumers, however, are increasingly pushing their favorite brands in the direction of social purpose.
Adopting a social purpose is fusing your company’s product offering with a larger vision for making the world a better place. Embracing purpose helps to unify your audiences, giving your brand an edge over those who appear to only care about the bottom line.
In a 2021 survey of 1,000 U.S. adults by PR firm Porter Novelli, 73 percent said they were less likely to “cancel” a purpose-driven brand.
Social purpose can also give your reputation management strategy clarity and context.
But social purpose is not like a traditional CSR program:
If you are not ready to embrace a larger “why” for what you do, you’re not ready for social purpose.
For both B2C and B2B brands, purpose can be profitable.
Danish toymaker LEGO is a $7 billion company that generated $1.5 billion in profit in 2020, a 20 percent increase over the year before.
LEGO has long associated its products with helping children to learn and grow—to “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”
LEGO extends this brand promise to a larger social purpose. The brand has consistently invested in initiatives to enrich, nurture and protect the future of children. These includes
Not coincidentally, LEGO ranked as the “most reputable company in the world” in RepTrak’s 2021 annual survey for the second year in a row.
But purpose isn’t just for B2C products like children’s toys. It can give B2B brands a competitive edge as well.
While some B2B brands have begun viewing social purpose as important to growth, many are unsure how to embed their stated purpose into every aspect of their operations. To build brand trust, both with customers and with employees, your brand purpose must be relevant to your company and customer base.
As an example, in 2018 Dropbox and its founders launched the Dropbox Foundation, which focuses on partnering with nonprofits to promote human rights. As a service that enables millions of users to easily share information, Dropbox’s support for organizations that use information to defend human rights fits their brand.
As the company put it: “A big part of our mission has always been helping our users achieve their missions.”
The advantages for B2Bs adopting a social purpose include:
As you develop your brand's story, don't simply focus on product features and use cases. Start by asking yourself how your brand makes the world a better place, and build your narrative around that.