What is a brand with purpose?
Over the last two years, more and more brands have been talking about their purpose as opposed to their products. Brands with purpose lead with a ‘why’, not a ‘what’ or ‘how’. Their core beliefs are woven into everything they do from manufacture, to people, to waste and packaging.
Millennials and Generation Z care about the future of the planet more than any other generations before them. They expect brands and organisations to be conscious of the mark they leave on the environment and they want to feel good about themselves when they make a purchase.
A study from Neilsen showed that 77 percent of Gen Zs are willing to pay more for a product from an environmentally conscious brand vs. just 51 percent of Baby Boomers and 66 percent of the overall population.
Digital savvy Gen Zs will do their homework. Before making a purchase or donation, they will spend time learning about an organisation’s business, and if that organisation does not show care for the environment, fair pay, equality and sustainability, then they will likely boycott it. This doesn’t just mean they won’t purchase, but they will also likely make some negative noise on social media as well. 31% of Gen Zs have boycotted a company that they perceived as following unsustainable practices.
Lush has been notoriously known for controversy in recent years, for being so passionate about veganism, environmental issues and more. When you think of lush you think of sustainable products, their infamous #SpyCops campaign and their quitting of social media. Lush lead with their ‘why’ all of the time, and as a result of this, have a large and loyal audience who share the same beliefs, and want to contribute to Lush’s purpose.
When you find yourself on the Toms shoes website, they only have two navigation buttons. One allowing you to shop, and one coined ‘Your Impact’. Toms purpose is to improve lives, and this immediately shows the audience just how committed they are to making a difference. They’ve made it simple for anybody on their website to access this amazing work they do every day, demonstrating exactly why leading with your purpose should be your priority. Toms have donated shoes, water, sight restorations and have helped over 96 million people.
Persil launched the 'Dirt is Good' campaign in 2016 and they completely transformed the way that people looked at washing powder. Rather than competing on the 'whitest whites' the said, kids should go out, explore, play and get dirty. It's good for them - oh and Persil will be there to clean their clothes afterwards. Genius.
Patagonia’s purpose is to save our home planet. “We aim to use the resources we have—our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations—to do something about it.”
What started out as a campaign, has become a whole new side of the business for Patagonia, when they launched ‘Worn Wear’. Keeping clothing in use for just an extra nine months, can reduce the related carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%. Worn Wear gives customers the opportunity to trade in their used gear to keep it in use, and out of landfill. When you trade in, you get ‘credit’ to use towards new or pre-loved Patagonia wear.
What can charities learn from these brands? How do they create engagement?
Show your purpose
To start with, they lead with their ‘why’. This may seem obvious, especially to a charity, but it is essential to lead with why you are doing what you do, not what it is or how you do it. Brands with purpose make people feel good about themselves, because they feel that they are contributing to this purpose.
Give them something for their money.
Of course, it is difficult to compete with a brand like Patagonia where a £100 ‘contribution’ to their purpose gets you a waterproof jacket. But, charities can give benefactors something for their money, with simple updates via text or email, a user can understand exactly what their money is helping to achieve.
A great example is Children with Cancer UK. Each month they send a text message telling you what your donation is achieving.
Our recent survey of over 200 benefactors showed that the biggest reason they won’t donate to a charity, is because they don’t trust where the money goes.
Brands with purpose create trust through authenticity and transparency. If a mistake is made, hold up your hands, never bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Make your spending reports easily accessible and understandable. Have conversations with your donors through social media, be honest, share your goals and aspirations.
Ensuring that your charity's purpose is authentic and your practices are transparent, combined with giving benefactors peace of mind and making them feel good, will ensure that they are more likely to click ‘donate’.