Published Oct 29, 2021
Our UK team recently hosted the Growth with Purpose Event at Landing 42 in London. CMOs and Heads of Insights from many of the world’s most renowned brands joined us for a day of exceptional keynote speakers, stimulating roundtable discussions, and the latest insights from our Global Consumer Barometer.
To set the scene, Frederic-Charles Petit, CEO and Founder of Toluna, highlighted some of the critical market developments that we’ve identified through our global research and close partnerships with clients. Specifically, he referenced:
● How consumer behaviours and attitudes are changing more rapidly than ever. Today, they expect to see the values they hold dear reflected by the brands they purchase.
● How businesses are looking to grow revenue through new product development. We hear CMOs talk about NPD as their route to growth, and this must be based upon a clear understanding of consumer values.
● How our clients tell us of their growing need for rapid access to high-quality consumer insights. This has never been more critical to business success.
After the opening address, Christian Majgaard, the former Global Head at Lego, shared how the brand brings purpose to life. In his presentation, he gave examples of how to think outside the box, how to engage with different stakeholders throughout the organisation to activate brand purpose and the ways in which Lego partners with external organisations (such as Hollywood) to bring brand purpose to life.
He then shared eight critical considerations to guide your own thinking around brand purpose:
1. Diagnose through own open response
2. Diagnose challenges and openings
3. Consider who goes on stage
4. Consider whom to impress
5. Rethink stakeholder segmentation
6. Consider distance from core in purpose and deed
7. If you add, don’t lose distinctiveness
8. Serve opposing objectives through innovation and insight
“We had this idea that we could stay as this classic brand forever, but we realised it was like sitting on the deck of the Titanic,” said Majgaard on Lego’s efforts. “I was helped by the owner who was really driving vision and purpose here—and so we set a new vision to be the world’s strongest brand among families with children. We were far from that then, but we did it.”
Stefano Giolito, Senior Advisor of Purpose-led Brand Strategy and Sustainability at Reckitt, noted that brand purpose isn’t just a nice idea from a commercial angle. Rather, it can be brought to life through brand activation. Engaging your consumers in your brand purpose makes it possible to drive positive change within society—and on your bottom line. And consumers of all incomes and ages are buying on brand purpose, too.
In his presentation, Stefano outlined how Reckitt has brought its own brand purpose to life through its #SkiptheRinse campaign, a global movement to encourage consumers to conserve water. To guide your own approach to brand purpose, he shared four key pillars to consider:
1.Anchor your brand purpose in Sustainable Development Goals. These are the closest thing to a common language from a global perspective.
2.Do or do not—there is no try. Your efforts need to be authentic, relevant, and done at scale.
3.Measure what you treasure. Go beyond reach by focusing on impact with regard to people and planet.
4.Embed your values into all of your processes. It’s core to your business—not a wrapper or a separate initiative.
After the presentations from our keynote speakers, our clients and experts joined together to share their experiences around four key topics. Below, we share some of the key takeaways from each:
New product development is often driven by commercial considerations—such as unmet consumer needs or competitor launches—so it’s important to understand where you can infuse it and where you can’t. Likewise, you need to be mindful of how this affects your parent brand or sub-brands so as to avoid misalignment. To accomplish this, it’s helpful to have a senior stakeholder to own these efforts.
From a research perspective, it’s critical to test concepts from the outset. This enables you to build your story—both internally and externally—about why it’s important, why it will resonate with consumers, and why it’s good for your brands. From there, communicating that proposition becomes natural.
● Focus: You need to have a dedicated team that is focused on purpose in their day-to-day roles. For example, Reckitt has a team, as well as a framework by which they measure the specific impact of brand efforts against UN Sustainable Development Goals. For Finish, they measured the litres of water saved through dishwasher tablet use.
● Alignment: It is vital to get agreement on the success criteria/KPIs at the outset. Think along the lines of how an investor might measure impact (i.e. share price, level of awareness, level of engagement).
● Start somewhere: Have a starting point on your KPIs. It does not need to be perfect, but you need to have a baseline to measure awareness against. You should aim low and build rather than aim high and fail.
● Employee engagement: Remember to include metrics that capture employee feedback and engagement with your brand purpose. If they haven’t bought in, why should anyone else?
1. Is our organisation doing what we say? Or is there a clear gap between actions and words?
2. Are we effectively understanding what customers want and—only then—acting upon it?
3. Are our brand purpose objectives pivotal to the brand itself? What’s the association?
4. Have we gone off track into unrelatable niche areas?
5. Is our purpose for the common good or has it become one of advocacy (i.e. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream backing social/political movements)?
Internally, there’s the challenge of stakeholder alignment and socialization. Is everyone aware of your purpose and rowing in the same direction?
Externally, consumers don’t always make decisions that agree with their purported views. Likewise, they don’t necessarily understand the challenges that brands face from an implementation standpoint. Consider the topic of sustainability, for example. For global brands, there are varying recycling practices that make efforts more complex than they seem at face value.
In order to overcome these challenges, start by using the knowledge you have. Do consumers have a negative perception of a certain aspect of your brand? If so, start there rather than building a new story. And when you are in the process of implementing your brand purpose, make sure you’re communicating that story to your consumers by leveraging the right channels at the right time.
We all know the issues that the planet and businesses face, so find the sweet spot where they intersect with your business as a natural jumping-off point for brand purpose.