Marketplace Insights: June 2017 edition

June 1, 2017 nora.koksal

The latest news, research and buzz on purpose-driven brands and customer trust from Business in the Community's Marketplace team.

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Marketplace insights at a glance

A new report from edie considers the megatrends of most concern to sustainability practitioners, and the impact they are likely to have on business with 40% seeing profit and sustainability as synonymous.


Recent research suggests that consumers are looking for more from the brands they buy from, but that a level of doubt surrounds a brand’s goodwill.


Purpose has flooded the market in recent months, and in an effort to not be left behind many brands have made the mistake of not thinking through their campaigns. What can brands learn from these errors in judgement?


Using a number of case studies, two articles explore the mechanisms driving purpose within business.


What is the role of marketing? Is it simply to sell more stuff, or should marketers be setting their sights higher? A number of recent articles argue the relevance of purpose in marketing.


New BITC Training: A brand with purpose: building trust through a sustainable commercial strategy.

New research and reports

A new report from edie sets out the impact of future megatrends on business. Unsurprisingly environmental concerns featured heavily, as well as technology and innovation. An audience survey of 180 CSR professionals made up part of the report. Over 40% believed sustainability and profitability go hand-in-hand, whereas over 37% felt that there was no choice, and that we have to make it work. A potentially biased viewpoint, based on the area of profession of the respondents, but encouraging to see more adopting this mindset.


Other recent research from MediaCom highlights the growing trend among consumers looking for more from the brands they buy, with 40% of UK consumers claiming they have stopped using a brand they feel does not speak to their values. Interestingly, there was also doubt among consumers, with 65% suspecting companies are overstating their environment-friendly credentials and 45% admitted they were skeptical of any brands claiming to support good causes. Building brand authenticity will help to close this trust gap. Another study of 1,000 Americans by McCann Truth Central found similar doubts among consumers, with 42% of those surveyed believing brands are less truthful today than they were 20 years ago. Business must take this as an opportunity to get out and speak to consumers, and understand how they can reclaim their trust and create deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Delivering authentic purpose-driven brands

Purpose has become a trend in marketing, leading to brands pushing out ‘purposeful’ marketing which is unlikely thought through and without alignment to what the company truly stands for.  Purposeful marketing may be a fad that will die out in popularity, but the winners will be those that get it right. Too often marketers can get caught up in the gimmicks to drive sales, which can lack authenticity and often miss the point, such as Dove’s recent body shaped bottles. The kickback felt in the marketing community is symptomatic of purpose being seen by marketers as a marketing strategy.

If something is a gimmick, no wonder marketers are cynical. It is a strategic tool, not just a marketing one. Instead brands should be focusing on getting it right internally, and innovating useful ways to drive change. A harder feat but one which will be rewarded by consumers. BITC’s Purpose Toolkit outlines the fundamentals of how to get purpose right.

Although the recent Dove campaign may have missed the mark, Unilever are highly regarded for their approach to a sustainable business model. This month Unilever reported its Sustainable Living brands grew over 50% faster than the rest of the business and delivered more than 60% of Unilever’s growth in 2016. Campaign explores the tricks behind Unilever’s success, with the key takeaway being that a marketing campaigns should not be treated as a conventional, standalone actions, but should be part of a wider strategy owned across departments, which affects decisions across the business.

Patagonia have also experienced successes from their purpose-driven approach. A look at the mechanisms within their business showed a similar mindset. The answer lies in four elements working in tandem; aligned culture; innovative product; social/environmental benefit; and profitable growth; towards one core goal – the purpose.

What is the role of marketing?

Heineken have received much attention for their recent approach to purposeful marketing, in particular in comparison to Pepsi’s Kendal Jenner advert. However, Mark Ritson of Marketing Week questions whether it’s actually going to sell more beer. Should that be the only measurement for the impact of marketing, Ritson would no doubt argue yes, but can marketing offer more than that? We should be encouraging brands to use their visual identity to engage more with their consumers on the issues that matter to them.

Ignoring this way of thinking is threatening the role of the CMO.  Marketing has become too focused on the campaign, without understanding the impact they’re trying to make and therefore not measuring the results that such campaigns can bring. Marketing should be front and central when it comes to customer engagement and in turn company growth. Creating a valuable brand customer experience will come from more than its products, communicating a positive social message are also vital to customer experience and brand perception. Consumers expect more from campaigns than to just be sold to, they want to engage in the development of products, and to be made aware of what the company stands for.

New BITC Training: A brand with purpose: building trust through a sustainable commercial strategy

This new one day course will examine the business case for being a purpose-driven brand, provide participants with the tools to authentically embed purpose into commercial activities, and enable action planning to bring together cross-functional departments and effectively drive change. Intentionally suited for a mixed audience of CR, HR and Communications practitioners.


We would love to hear more about what our members have been doing in this space. Please do get in contact with Hannah Rowley at to share your experiences.


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