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How purpose-driven marketing ruled 2020

Many consumers expect brands to have a purpose, and this has become especially relevant in the age of COVID-19. Find out how you can harness purpose-driven marketing for your business.

In an age where authenticity and ethical practices are more appealing than ever to consumers, it’s no surprise to see that purpose-driven marketing has begun to rule the roost. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a slew of brands taking steps to help out, and proclaiming about how we’re all in this together. But does that actually help their marketing efforts?


The answer seems to be a resounding yes. Consumers reacted positively to purpose-led brands before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has only increased that. This is likely to have a long-term impact, with 79% of people saying they are likely to favour companies that behaved well during the pandemic. But how has this come to be the norm, and why is purpose-driven marketing so effective?


Increasing trust and loyalty

As customers, we identify more with companies that share our values.

Nearly half of all consumers are willing to pay more for brands that are socially or environmentally conscious.

However, this is not just about feeling like a business shares your interest; it’s about trust.


A survey from Microsoft Search Advertising found that there is a 76% correlation between trusting a brand and loving it. Additionally, 85% of people only consider purchasing from a brand once they trust it. This is due to something Sustainable Brands calls “the Good Life”: the thing consumers are searching for when they purchase products or services. For 76% of people, this involves making a difference to the lives of others.


Sustainable Brands found that 80% of people are loyal to brands that help them achieve this. During a pandemic, this has become even more crucial. According to Alicia Tillman, CMO of SAP, companies need to step up during difficult times like the one in which we’re living.

“During any crisis, it becomes really a test of the strength of your brand, and how well your brand understands what most matters to people right now,” she said.


Utilising purpose-driven marketing

With purpose-driven marketing so effective, especially given the ongoing pandemic, what can brands do to showcase their values to potential customers? As might be expected, it can be risky. The values you espouse might not be the same ones held by your audience, and some might cause offence and controversy.


Take Gillette, which launched an ad campaign promoting an end to toxic masculinity and sexism in the wake of the “#MeToo” movement. The company knew this would alienate some consumers, but it hoped to attract the millennial generation. Unfortunately for Gillette, this didn’t work, and the company “lost connection” with this demographic. 


However, an even more controversial campaign from TOMS Footwear saw a surprising amount of success. The brand donated $5 million to organisations tackling gun violence in the US, which can be an extremely touchy topic, and as a result has seen significant growth. However, the company knew their core audience was likely to share their values, making this less of a risk.


Purpose-driven marketing might be especially relevant in 2020, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away in 2021. Furthermore, the point of this approach in the age of COVID-19 isn’t to score quick wins. According to a PwC report, “a purpose-led approach to this crisis allows companies to navigate the short-term concerns whilst building the foundations for the long term”. Success in this area of your marketing will help your business grow even when the pandemic is long gone.


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