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Principles of Marketing

19.5 Purpose-Driven Marketing

Principles of Marketing19.5 Purpose-Driven Marketing

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • 1 Understand issues related to purpose-driven marketing.
  • 2 Articulate best practices in purpose-driven marketing.

Brand Purpose

Brands satisfy many people, from employees to investors, to customers, to suppliers, and to the communities that they serve. These parties ask for more than a good product at a fair price. They ask for a brand to stand for something more than the product or service being offered. Brand purpose is developed deep in the DNA of an organization and should be infused in everything the brand says and does.

Accenture conducted a global survey of 30,000 consumers about brand purpose. It found that 62 percent of customers want companies to take a stand on issues such as sustainability, transparency, or fair working conditions. Furthermore, the brand purpose should align closely with the consumer’s values to create an optimal purchase choice. Consumers are willing to switch brands if their values do not align.27

The challenge runs deep. People expect brands to connect to a deep purpose; however, they are intolerant of brands who do so inauthentically. Walmart is an example of a company that received backlash from customers because of what they felt was not authentic. In May 2022, Walmart launched an ice cream flavor for the upcoming Juneteenth holiday. Consumers felt that Walmart was trying to sell a product rather than honor an important day in history.28 This example demonstrates the importance of holding a purpose at the center of the brand instead of using it as a means of selling a product.

Bombas knows how to build purpose into its DNA. The innovative, purpose-driven brand built its business on donating socks and underwear to homeless shelters with each purchase. As of this writing, Bombas has donated over 5 million items with the help of 3,500 impact partners in every state.29 Its message is simple: you buy socks, they give socks. Purpose is at the heart of Bombas’s organizational mission, and it will share it with anyone who will listen.

Brands That Put Purpose First

The brands that put purpose at the center create ways for their customers to experience purpose. Dove was a pioneer in brand purpose when it developed its Campaign for Real Beauty. Marketing research uncovered that young girls were impacted by media’s standards of beauty. Dove took this insight and decided to tackle a systemic societal problem. This multi-decade campaign led to a celebration of all types of beauty, redefining how we think of women and impacting self-esteem. Customers could experience purpose because the Campaign for Real Beauty was all about them. The Campaign for Real Beauty was more than just advertising; it reflected who Dove wanted to be in the world.30

Purpose-driven brands speak up, even when it’s difficult or costly to do so. If you read the news, you may see brands taking a stand on social issues. Russia’s war on Ukraine in 2022 urged several American companies to cease operations in Russia. It can be costly to cease operations in a country as large and populous as Russia, but companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s decided that their purpose was more important than their profits in this case.

Brands with purpose are intentional about inclusion. While exclusivity can be an effective marketing tactic for luxury brands, purpose-driven brands know that inclusivity is paramount. Procter & Gamble is known as a company that weaves inclusion into the fabric of its organization, from its hiring practices to the use of its paid media.

Knowledge Check

It’s time to check your knowledge on the concepts presented in this section. Refer to the Answer Key at the end of the book for feedback.

Which of the following concepts are related to purpose-driven marketing?
  1. Transparency
  2. Sustainability
  3. Fair working conditions
  4. All of the above are correct.
Which of the following is a best practice of purpose-driven brands?
  1. Standing up for what’s right
  2. Good advertising
  3. Telling everyone about their purpose
  4. Being profitable
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