Though it feels as if we’re steadily coming out of the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say the world still faces some unprecedented challenges. From the cost of living crisis in the UK to the ongoing war in Ukraine, emotions are high and consumers want brands to be sensitive to broader goings on and reflect the world they live in.
Gen Z and millennials demand social justice and tangible progress made from the brands they engage with more than any other generation before. Nearly half (46.8%) of Gen Z said they have abandoned a purchase that did not align with their values, according to Drapers’ annual consumer research report.
With brands looking to both drive customer loyalty amongst these generations and also recruit and retain staff within similar age groups, it’s more important than ever for them to prioritise purpose within their internal and external operations.
So where do they start and which brands have been doing it well? Some recent examples of UK brands demonstrating and leading with purpose include:
- Asda, Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco have become the latest supermarket chains in the UK to pledge an update to their toilet roll packaging in a bid to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer. The move comes after Bowel Cancer UK called on supermarkets to add the little-known facts, stats and symptoms to their own-brand packaging, following an idea from a Marks and Spencer employee who was diagnosed with the disease in 2016.
- Channel 4 marked the 50th anniversary of the Pride movement by hosting more than 80 Pride celebrations across the UK, happening alongside the usual major city events. The “Proud All Over” campaign, which consisted of TV ads, social content and a brand video fronted by comedian Tom Allen, challenges the idea that people have to travel to big cities to celebrate Pride, instead shining a light on allyship in smaller regional communities.
- In the U.S., companies including Disney, Meta and Amazon pledged to cover any expenses incurred by staff who travel to access abortion. A June 24 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned Roe v. Wade, which granted the constitutional right to abortion. With abortion bans expected to take effect in a number individual states across the U.S., major brands like Levi’s, Netflix and Disney have confirmed they will cover the costs incurred by employees who need to travel to another state to access abortion.
There are myriad ways to re-think your social impact and ensure it remains relevant and effective. Remaining open to new ideas and thinking from all levels within your team is integral to this, as well as making sure any new goals you set align with your overall company mission and objectives. Sharing regular external communication and progress on your goals and milestones is also a good way of staying transparent and honest and further helps to build credibility for your brand.
Reacting promptly to something in the news you know will affect your target audience is also key. Whether it’s a charity donation, acknowledgement on social media or a related change in policy where appropriate, acting quickly on developments related to an issue you’re associated with shows you walk the walk and are truly committed to the cause.
With 8 in 10 consumers saying they’re more loyal to purpose-driven brands, knowing your “why” as a brand and ensuring the morals and values that guide your business and matter to you as a business are clear to the end consumer is vital.
Purpose allows companies to connect with their consumers on a deeper, more personal level, as they can see themselves in the brand. Ultimately, this will lead to a longer, more valuable relationship with the company and will see consumers coming back and staying loyal to those who are purpose-led.
Emma is a senior account director in the London team. She has broad experience across consumer, hospitality and tech clients, with recent activity ranging from launching hotels in Paris and London to hosting on-the-ground media tours and building executive profiles for those at companies including Pinterest and Reddit.