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Changing consumer tastes mean your brand needs to have a purpose

Changing consumer tastes mean your brand needs to have a purpose
Vhari Russell
Vhari Russell
Managing Director

Brands with purpose are expected to grow at twice the rate of those without a social or environmental responsibility focus. The latest data and research released tell us to find a purpose to crack growth. Vhari Russell, Enterprise Nation member and managing director at The Food Marketing Experts, takes a look to see what this means.

For its Purpose 2020 research, Kantar Consulting interviewed 20,000 consumers and carried out 100 deep dive interviews with brands to find that brands with a high sense of purpose have had their brand value increase by 175% over the past 12 years. This was against a medium growth of 86% and a growth rate of 70% for brands with a low sense of purpose.

Clearly this indicates that consumers' expectations have changed and that there is now an expectation on brands to use their power for positive change.

Purpose is defined as "the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists". Bearing in mind that brand purpose is not a substitute for your brand positioning, it does however give you credibility to talk about it and focus on something that is positive for both your brand and the consumer.

The balance between commercials and impact

For any new or small brand, the challenge will be to get the balance bright between commercials and impact. Anyone looking for investment will know there is a fine balance between demonstrating ROI and at the same time a kindness to the planet and people. The key to it according to Kantar is "the best in class brands are able to rally their purpose behind themselves".

The fastest growing shoe brand in the world is Allbirds. With a grant from the New Zealand wool industry in 2014, Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger created a sustainable shoe from wool, which went on to be called the ‘most comfortable shoe in the world’ by Time Magazine.

They have three principles that they live by. 1. Keep it simple 2. Be transparent and 3. Use your praise.

Allbirds didn’t market themselves as the most comfortable shoe but have used this praise in all their marketing communications. The now cult brand has gone on to create a sole made of sugarcane and shared the rights to the technology with the whole industry. The brand racked up $100m in revenues over the first two years in market. Their communications across all platforms consistently focuses on ethical credentials and messaging, but with an emphasis on getting feedback directly from followers.

Unilever has reported that their portfolio of brands taking action for people and planet grew 69% faster than the rest of their business in 2018. Named as the company's 28 Sustainable Brands, they accounted for 75% of growth. They have stated clearly that "in the future every brand will be a brand with purpose".

Ultimately the numbers speak for themselves, and Unilever continues to take the approach that brands must not just talk about environmental and social issue but need to follow up with action and demonstrate their commitment to making a difference.

The fast-growing Tony’s Chocolate brand is wearing purpose on its sleeve. Sales are growing at over 50% year on year led by the key message of "Slave free the norm in chocolate". The message is clear across every touchpoint and staff are seen championing their mission at every opportunity.

The company's website states what it stands for and why and there is a clear call to action to get involved, supported by solid results. Based on the support for the compny's petitions and engagement, consumers are truly buying into this purpose-led food brand.

The challenge for founders, marketers and brand developers is to manage a fine line between making a connection with purpose-driven messaging and missing the market completely (evident in recent McDonalds and Coca Cola adverts). Consider carefully your way of engaging, be clear with your message and remain true to your values. And if needs be, be courageous. Consumers will recognise this and appreciate it.
Vhari Russell
Vhari Russell
Managing Director
Life-long foodie, devoted to the food industry and renowned networking whirlwind. Founder of the Food Marketing Expert and Co-founder of Grub Club Cambridge.  Vhari is obsessed with helping producers get their products on retailers’ shelves and getting their products the sales, profile and coverage they deserve. Leaves no stone unturned. Foody facts: Quality control police for flavoursome tomatoes. Basil oil nut. Not averse to a peanut butter & cucumber sandwich (almost always with a gin and tonic). .

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