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Purpose & Profit: Why Companies Need to Take a Stand


At no other point in time have consumers been able to find virtually anything they need or want with as much ease.

Mixed within retailers’ ongoing battle for market share, relevance, and survival against new and emerging brands is the battle for consumer trust and loyalty.

With that in mind, companies need to spend more time understanding their brand perception, their place in the social sphere, and how it fuels consumer loyalty.

The Purpose-led Economy

In today’s society and economy, real value seems to be coming not just from dollars earned but impact made. It lies with combining purpose and profit.

Consumers want to know what drives companies from a deeper level, and their demanding more and more of that from the places they work and the products they buy. According to a 2018 survey by Sprout Social, two-thirds of consumers say it’s important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues.

And companies, whether they want to or not, can get out in front or they can hide their heads in the sand. They need to find ways to marry the aspects that impact bottom line with societal impact, because the “purpose-led economy” is coming - if it’s not here already.

Why it Matters

It matters because a growing number of consumers believe companies should take a stand and they’re willing to support that stand with their purchases.

According to a 2017 Edelman Earned brand study, 57 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from or boycott a brand because of its stance on a social or political issue.

In addition to that, a Shelton Group survey found that new or updated products (53 percent) and great customer service (34 percent) were the top two reasons that certain brands came to mind for consumers. The third most impactful reason: social purpose (30 percent).

And to illustrate the growth in this “purpose-led” decision making, 30 percent of respondents from the Edelman survey said they are buying or boycotting MORE than they did 3 years ago. On top of that, the younger generations of consumers feel it’s important for companies’ values to align with their own. According to a Euclid report, 52 percent of Millennials and 48 percent of Gen Xers find that values, properly articulated, can serve as powerful motivation to choose a company or brand.

microphoneFinding the Right Ways to Do It

But as we just referenced, it takes proper articulation for consumers to buy into a company’s social values or stance. The key is authenticity – and communication.

It’s increasingly essential that messages stand out, are easy to remember, and relate back to the company sharing them. It doesn’t mean commenting or taking a stance on everything, but rather around issues that align with your products, services, and mission.

Take for example Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, the two nation’s leading gun sellers. In the wake of the Parkland, FL shooting in February, at the hands of a 19-year old, both retailers took a stand by raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.

And while Walmart had previously discontinued sales of high-powered rifles and attributed it to lower consumer demand, this time they directly linked their decision to the Parkland shooting and thrusts themselves into the middle of a polarizing debate on gun control.

Companies must show – not just tell.

For companies in today’s purpose-led economy, consumers are buying more than just what’s being sold. They’re buying into what your company believes in.

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