Unilever is perceived as the most purpose-led organisation out of the Ad Age Global Top 20 Marketers a survey of 149 senior marketers representing 58 companies in over 40 countries for companies representing over $US70 billion in ad spend has found.
The survey, conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers, was offset against another survey of 8000 consumers in 16 countries conducted by Edelman. The results of overlaying the two sets of findings of the same questions was presented in a classic he says, she says comparison.
One of the most marked areas of disparity was the question of which global region considered purpose to be of the most importance. The marketers voted for Europe (58%), then North America (36%), Asia (5%) and for South America (1%). Conversely, the consumer survey identified the rapid growth economies of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE and Brazil as being most concerned with purpose.
Consumers in the rapid growth economies also said they are more willing to pay more for purpose-infused brands.
Marketers strongly acknowledged the growing importance of purpose, with 88% agreeing or strongly agreeing it would be ‘increasingly important to building brands,’ 83% that it is ‘important for a brand to have a sense of purpose’ and 81% that it was ‘a business opportunity’.
However marketers appeared to underestimate the extent to which consumers said they supported good causes, with only 46% of marketers saying consumers support good causes versus 60% of consumers saying they did. Perhaps happily for marketers, they also underestimated the proportion of global consumers who thought it was OK for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time, with only 56% of marketers thinking it was okay versus 76% of consumers.
Both marketers and consumers agreed that by purpose they meant creating programs to positively impact the community, protecting and improving the environment and ethical business activities. However Edelman’s research identified an emerging business opportunity with the top attributes consumers find most important for companies addressing social issues to be oriented around employee welfare and listening to and acting upon customer needs and feedback.
When asked if the brands they worked for generally had a sense of purpose, 49% marketers agreed or strongly agreed but only 38% felt they had been successful in effectively communicating purpose. Nevertheless, some 93% agreed that it is possible to measure the impact of purpose on positive PR and reputation, 91% on consumer engagement, 90% on employee satisfaction, 86% on brand equity and 71% on customer satisfaction. 54% agreed it was possible to measure the impact of purpose on sales.