Why You Need A Social Purpose In 2020

16-year-old Swedish Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - HP1EF9N1AIFX9
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In this guest post, founder of Social Mission, Dora Nikols (pictured below), says brands that have a social purpose aren’t just doing good they’re doing good business, too…

One of the biggest trends driving business today is having a meaningful social purpose. Not only does it offer a strong competitive advantage but it leads to growth and wins the hearts, minds and emotions of your audience. But you must be authentic and you must get it right.

Dora Nikols - Nov 2019

It’s common for companies to support charities or create cause marketing campaigns where they get behind an issue short-term. But how many turn their good into a social purpose where they commit to making one huge positive difference in the world. According to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand report, two in three people choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stance on social issues.

This is why social enterprises are growing so rapidly and have completely changed the business landscape, Australia has approx 20,000. One of the most notable success stories in this space is Thankyou Water. When Danielle Flynn discovered that an alarming 900 million people around the world don’t have access to safe drinking water he used finding the solution as his social purpose.

The social purpose of Thank You Water is a world without poverty they partner with the UNHCR Refugee Agency to fund safe water projects in developing countries. They cared about the water crisis so much they turned it into a business opportunity and a way to grow. Today it has 55 products available in 5,500 outlets and have expanded into bodycare, nappies and baby care 100 per cent of profits fund safe water, food and hygiene and sanitation services around the world.

On the global market TOMS shoes credits its success to its defining social purpose ‘to put shoes on the feet of impoverished children’s feet’. In a market flooded with shoes it stood out because it captures people’s emotions. There will always be a cheaper or a better pair of shoes but none has this unique social purpose. Each time you buy a pair of TOMS a pair is donated to a child in need. Today the brand is worth $625million and has donated 80 million pairs of shoes.

Putting shoes on the feet of impoverished children’s feet became the centre of everything the company did. It was a driving vision of the founder and it became the legacy he wanted to leave behind. The story of TOMS and its social purpose became a sensation constantly fueled by the avalanche of publicity it received and its incredible demand.

It is brands like this that have changed the business landscape and paved a new path of how we do business. Consumers also have an insatiable appetite for brands who genuinely want to make the world a better place.  One of the first companies to have a bold social purpose was Ben & Jerry’s who always campaigned for the environment and social issues it cared about. Today it is owned by the corporate goliath Unilever who has found its social purpose brands which also include Dove have grown 69% faster than all the other brands in its portfolio.

The 2019 Havas Meaningful Brands Global Study which had 350,000 respondents from 31 countries found consumers have a higher intent to purchase brands that make the world a better place. They also outperform the stock market by 134 per cent. While a massive 77 per cent of consumers prefer to buy from companies who share their values.

As more consumers are looking for meaning and purpose in their lives they will want to support the brands that reflect their values. They will want to know what brands stand for, what social issue do they passionately believe in and want to solve. They will also avoid or boycott the brands that simply stay quiet. The Edelman Earned Brand Report found 65 per cent of consumers will not buy a brand because it stayed quiet on an issue it was obliged to address.

When it comes to staying competitive in 2020, brands will need to find their unique social purpose and bring it to life in a meaningful way so they not only stand out but stand for something. But they must get it right. It needs to come from the heart.

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Dora Nikols

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