Being Good by Doing Good
24 May 2021
Consumers and shoppers have changed their expectations of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and retailers that have demonstrated strong credentials in corporate and social responsibility have seen significant responses in terms of enhanced warmth to
Consumers and shoppers have changed their expectations of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and retailers that have demonstrated strong credentials in corporate and social responsibility have seen significant responses in terms of enhanced warmth towards their brands.
The pandemic has heightened consumers’ awareness of a variety of issues, such as food inequality, health & wellness and sustainability, and has led to a re-evaluation of what really matters to them. Shoppers are therefore no longer making decisions based solely on product or price; they’re assessing what a brand does and what it stands for. Shoppers support and show loyalty to companies whose brand purpose aligns with their beliefs, shunning those that don’t, with one in five shoppers walking away forever.
Brand purpose presents an opportunity for companies to build more differentiated, authentic, and profitable relationships with customers, influencing whether consumers decide to choose them over their competitors.
So, how can you make sure your brand purpose is front and centre to drive positive change and improve your business performance? How can you be good by doing good?
What is purpose?
When we talk about purpose, we think of a set of values that are integral to a brand, rather than a set of initiatives that are merely bolted on. It is also important not to veer into the trap of ‘engineered’ brand purpose: consumers are quickly able to spot a cynical or inauthentic endeavour that does not align with the past behaviours of a business.
Equally, shoppers can tell when a retailer is clambering aboard a topical bandwagon rather that adhering to an ingrained set of beliefs or strategies. Your brand does not always have to take a stance on societal issues or be advocates for particular causes. Instead, a well-understood long-term stance and set of values will give your customers and employees something they can believe in too.
Grocery retailers have fared well in reputational terms during the pandemic: they have garnered respect for feeding the nation amid unprecedented turbulence; their employees have been elevated from ‘low-skilled’ to ‘key workers’; they have prioritised vulnerable and NHS customers; and they have collaborated with food banks and other community groups. All in all, they have significantly improved their brand perceptions by ‘doing the right thing’.
For retailers and other customer-facing enterprises, it is important that they continue along the path of delivering values as well as value. We believe that the following efforts should be top of mind as we move on from the pandemic.
Leading on key issues
As normality approaches on the horizon, many retailers, hospitality companies and other service providers have already started to regain their focus on other key initiatives in realms including sustainability, health & wellness, inclusion and community. Most brands and retailers are to be commended for not only including objectives such as these in their CSR strategies, but actually undertaking tangible measures to achieve them. Customers expect action, not just talk.
Provide trustworthy content
Customers want businesses to provide reliable, unbiased, and truthful information, while also democratising the brand to give more access to communities.
Find a common purpose
A brand can’t act alone to make huge societal change. Instead, they need to pair with other businesses to truly make it a reality. This was reflected when Tesco reiterated its commitments to its sustainability goals this year noting that “No one business can tackle these challenges alone. We must take collective action as a food industry to drive the transformational changes necessary to meet the UK’s climate commitments.”
There are several other recent examples of brands and service providers embedding their values at the hear of their go to market strategy:
· In April 2021, financial service giant Aviva unveiled its largest brand campaign in five years - "It takes Aviva" - showing that it offers more than just insurance. This supports their new brand purpose "With you today for a better tomorrow" - helping consumers make more ethical purchasing choices, taking action on climate change, and supporting community-based charities.
· Virgin Media also wants to be seen as a 'brand with purpose beyond profit', launching a five-year plan that will boost diversity, support carers by facilitating better connections and reducing its environmental impact by 2025.
McDonald's revealed a new growth strategy called 'Accelerating the Arches'. It will see the fast food chain invest in 'new, culturally relevant approaches to effectively communicate the story of the brand, food, and purpose'; invest in its core products, including a meat-free 'McPlant' line in 2021; invest in purpose (use responsibly sourced ingredients, promote climate action, assist communities and assist retail staff); and invest in the 'three Ds' - delivery, drive-thru and digital.
Linking purpose-driven marketing with customer loyalty
Nearly half of Gen Y and Z, who represent around two-thirds of the world’s population, claim that they prefer brands that make them feel part of something bigger and that bring people together around common causes or beliefs. This implies that brands could be missing out on a large customer base if they fail to effectively convey their brand purpose.
Purpose-driven marketing gives brands a great opportunity to innovate in the ways they engage with the consumer and build customer loyalty. Integrating purpose-driven collaboration with your loyalty ecosystem can drive a more valuable and stronger emotional connection that will be difficult for your competitors to match.
We are proud of our partnerships with retailers that help make this a reality. Just this month, tcc has helped power Carrefour’s new community-based loyalty initiative in Belgium. By shopping with Carrefour, its customers can help support specific community sports groups that have struggled through the pandemic. The scheme will see loyal Carrefour shoppers donate vouchers to sports clubs that they can then exchange for vital equipment, embedding Carrefour’s CSR objectives into its marketing and into the hearts and minds of shoppers. It follows similar programmes that tcc has enabled for major retailers like REWE and Esselunga.
Measuring the impact of purpose – The ROI
We firmly believe that doing the right thing is important, not least because it is the right thing to do. There are many pressing issues that are confronting our planet and our communities and consumers have a genuine expectation that major businesses should do their bit in helping to address them.
By doing the right thing, there are benefits for our environment and for our communities, but importantly, there will also be benefits for our key stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders and suppliers:
It should not be forgotten that doing the right thing can have positive spin-offs for financial stakeholders. Many sustainability innovations, for example, benefit the bottom line. Similarly, purpose-led campaigns can generate positive impacts on core financial and performance KPIs.
For example, Delhaize saw a 3% ROI when it launched a biodiversity campaign in partnership with tcc. It introduced de Zoemertjes: a campaign created to change shopper behaviour by raising awareness of the challenges facing bees and other pollinators. Making quite a buzz online, the campaign was designed to reward, educate and entertain and was packed with games and educational content. Delhaize even gave out seeds that got people planting bee-friendly gardens.
The impact of a purpose-driven initiative on the health of your brand is key – these efforts attract new shoppers and retain existing customers. In a world where word of mouth and social media play a big role, creating advocacy is crucial. Embarking on purpose-driven marketing can be impactful in this sphere.
Often, one of the biggest upsides of purpose-driven initiatives is the effect it has on the engagement, morale and energy of employees. They welcome being part of an organisation that wishes to exert a positive impact on the communities that it serves.
Stakeholders that can be overlooked are suppliers. Purpose-driven campaigns around community, sustainability or health & wellness can be a huge opportunity to galvanise relationships with suppliers, many of whom will share your goals and CSR objectives. This can lead to enhanced collaboration and instore partnerships, leading to a more positive outcome for everyone.
KPIs such as market share, NPS and share price are often treated as objectives. We would argue that they should really be seen as outcomes: outcomes of doing the right things for shoppers and for society. Get in touch to see how we can make this a reality for you.
Let’s do some good together.