We are living in the ‘purpose generation’ where brands need to show what they stand for, writes the founder of Social Mission Dora Nikols.

We are living in an era of authenticity, meaning and purpose. Consumers no longer choose a brand just based on price.

Competing on price isn’t a strong marketing strategy because it’s so fleeting and only uses the logical part of our brain. It doesn’t capture our emotions or create loyalty in the same way having a bold social purpose does.

There are many companies that have woven trust, transparency, and purpose into their business models to great effect. Take the example of Unilver’s social purpose brands, Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, which are both growing 35 per cent faster than all the other brands in its portfolio.

Ben & Jerry’s in particular actively lives its three missions: to make the world’s best ice cream, to be financially successful and to ‘make the world a better place’.

It sources its milk from regional organic dairy farms that don’t contain growth hormones, it has chemical-free containers, and has fair-trade and organic ingredients. It also gets behind key causes in a major way and uses these to drive its marketing activities.

The brand recently partnered with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society for the ‘Fight for the Reef’ Campaign, and introduced a new flavour, Save Our Swirled, that was intended to raise awareness about climate change.

To promote its mission, Ben & Jerry’s went on a ‘Fight for the Reef’ tour in its branded Ben & Jerry’s van to educate consumers on the threat of The Great Barrier Reef. The power of its social mission was evident when the Queensland Government asked consumers to boycott the brand for jeopardising tourism dollars, but instead 80 per cent of consumers said they were more like to buy Ben & Jerry’s as a result of its social stance.

Latest research from Cone Communications has found that 89 per cent of global consumers would switch brands to one that supports a good cause, if price and quality were similar. So this is telling us that consumers want to use their purchasing power to support the brands that are doing good.

The Edelman Trust Barometer in 2017 found that 58 per cent of Australians are likely to be more loyal to brands that support a cause. Not only would consumers switch brands, they would even buy an unknown brand doing good. This is why new brands like Who Gives a Crap Toilet Paper, do so well. Because 50 per cent of profits go to help build toilets for those in the developing world.

The Edelman Report also found 88 per cent of consumers want to know how companies are making the world a better place, while 77 per cent of Australians want companies to share their values.

In one example of this, Australian beverage manufacturer Emma & Toms attributes its growth to its close and honest relationship with customers. The company is committed to protecting the environment by using food-grade recycled PET plastic bottles, a strategy that every year saves two million bottle worth of virgin plastic.

Emma & Toms also has a program in place to help change the face of youth homelessness in Australia by dedicating 100 per cent of profits from the sale of water bottles to fight the problem. To date, around 470,000 bottles have been sold, raising almost $400, 000.

Today, having a value and purpose beyond profit is essential for companies to ensure their longevity and success, especially with the plethora of choices available to consumers. Companies that don’t adapt to a market that demands more of them will fail to compete.

That’s where we come in. Social Mission is a dedicated social purpose agency that was specifically founded to assess a company’s current social good activities, and align them with the optimal charity partner to create a social purpose strategy. 

Dora Nikols is the founder of Social Mission, a social purpose agency that helps companies stand out by standing for something in a meaningful and authentic way.

The big four

Today consumers want an opportunity to give back, whether it’s with a gift of their time or their money. With this in mind, they are looking for companies that display the following four qualities:

  • are actively invested in the solution of social problems
  • prioritise “making an impact” on the world around them
  • are open and honest about their efforts, and go public on their initiatives
  • involve their customers in their good works.

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