Louis Sheppard, UNRVLD Experience Director explores how businesses can empower sustainable initiatives amongst employees and customers through authentic purpose-driven digital strategies.
Yvon Choinard gave his company, Patagonia, valued at $3 Billion, away to charity, with all profits going to fight climate change and protect undeveloped land.
While this is a pretty singular example of a business totally committing itself to a cause, it is also the realisation of purpose driven marketing; a much wider trend that has been building momentum for some time. This is where a business or brand builds preference with customers through demonstrating shared ethical values.
Historically, this idea has meant businesses using a portion of their profits or resources for charitable donations as a way of creating some positive PR. But being truly purpose driven is much more than this. It’s about amplifying ethical values and commitments that sit at the heart of a business and building the sense with customers that you are partners in a shared ambition, to make things better for the environment, for communities or for the planet.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
In terms of population percentage, millennials have just overtaken baby boomers. And its predicted that over the next few decades baby boomers will transfer over $68 trillion to them. So, a seismic shift in consumer power from one generation to the next.1
What millennials want and expect from business is very different to boomers. Whereas previously brands have communicated around ideas of value, service, desirability, quality, exclusivity, these things are much less important to millennials, to whom ethical values are a higher priority.
In 2015, Nielson published its annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report. It indicated that, globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Their prediction for a future where purposeful brands would lead the agenda has since proved to be true .
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS?
It important not to see this as ‘for profit’ versus or ‘for purpose’, or good versus evil principle, but finding an intersection between the two; the place where the pursuit of profit can be tied to a more altruistic benefit.
This trend is often labelled ‘purpose-driven marketing’, which really misses the point of what customers are looking for. If this is adopted by businesses as a marketing strategy that plays lip-service to a trend, there’s real danger of it being seen as insincere, and actually putting people off. There have been some pretty high-profile cases of purpose-led campaigns backfiring recently. It’s really important that ‘purpose’ is thought about from a strategic, business point of view and that it is embedded into the service or product proposition, not just in the brand proposition or the marcomms.
To take advantage of this trend, we need to build experiences that allow the exchanges of true values to happen, in a space that feels authentic and helps connect customers to products and services that they feel will benefit issues that they care about.
WORK IN PRACTICE
Biffa is the leading provider of sustainable waste management solutions in the UK, delivering services up and down the country to businesses of every type and size, from local chip shops to supermarket chains. Sharing sensitive waste data on waste volumes, carbon emissions and landfill, was a big shift in Biffa’s communications strategy. For Biffa, to expose this information built increased trust with customers and has given them deeper insight into what their environmental impact really is.
With this credibility, Biffa now shares knowledge content about effective waste management and sells more environmentally positioned products. They are building their brand through sharing their own data and stories about how they are using technology to reduce carbon emissions from waste.
UNRVLD has worked closely with Biffa to develop a new self-serve customer portal that supports customers with sustainability data and information on how their waste is treated. This helps them understand their environmental impact and offers them a simpler way both to manage their services and make better, more informed decisions in order to reduce the environmental impact of waste.
Discover how we set the groundworks for Biffa to then build ecommerce services for its customers