In the “purpose revolution”, there is good news and bad news when it comes to getting customers and employees to connect with your purpose. The good news is customers and employees across all generations want to be connected to brands they believe in. The bad news is that few brands are succeeding at this.
A recent study looked at perceptions among Gen Z (basically 25 years old and under) on how they see companies on social issues. What emerged is relevant across generations — 68% said that corporate support for social causes improves their perception of the brand, and 58% said it impacts their buying choices. Bad news: only 12% could identify specific companies with a cause.
The lessons that emerged from the research fully support the advice in my book The Purpose Revolution.
First, be consistent and focused. Dove has been focused on redefining beauty and body image for 15 years, so, not surprisingly, 58% of Gen Z knows this and are have positive feelings towards Dove as a brand. The company is also growing 30% faster than their competitors. Even if you support many causes, stay focused on a core issue. Many times, companies that actually contribute less to social good but are known for something, do better and get more traction from their work. The moral is not to do less good, but to have a focus that connects you with your core customer.
Second, be bold. Patagonia has the highest consistent positive association with a cause in the Gen Z survey. The company has been bold and even courted controversy when they took on the President of the United States on the issue of public land use. The “purpose revolution” requires boldness and people will respond to courage. Of course, those who disagree may opt out, but the loyalty of those who align with your values will grow. Chick-Fil-A is an example of courage with their “closed on Sunday” policy which attracts the loyalty of consumers who love their stance.
Third, be loud. If your company is supporting social issues be loud and proud. Make it clear on the label, in your social media, in your employee meetings, and so on. Don’t hide your light. Nike got lots of powerful social media benefit from their stand on social justice through supporting NFL athlete Colin Kaepernick. But months later, only 27% associated them with racial justice. So, you’d better keep it central.
Finally, Be Authentic. But here is where it gets interesting: Gen Z sees authenticity differently. Rather than feel your cause must align with your business, they feel any cause is fair game so long as the company is sincere and consistent in tackling that issue.
For more than 20 years, Dr. John Izzo has helped companies maximize their potential from the ground up. He has been a pioneer in employee engagement, leading change, shifting employee and consumer values, and corporate social responsibility, and is known for his hard hitting practical content, inspirational storytelling, and the lasting impact he has on organizations.
Interested in learning more about John and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].