How social purpose brands inspire customers into action and influence consumer behavior
This is an introduction video to my doctoral research on social purpose brands. Transcript provided below.
What if you knew that you could help make the world a better place simply by purchasing a product or service? It sounds basic, but that is the essence of what you’re doing when you buy from social purpose brands.
Research shows consumers increasingly prefer brands that have a purpose that goes beyond making a profit, and that align with their personal values. But this preference can often times conflict with the needs of a brand’s other economic stakeholders.
Broad acceptance of businesses leading with social purpose requires systemic change, including factors that contribute to corporate decision-making and those that influence customer mindsets in the brand’s ecosystem.
However, balancing profit and purpose expectations is possible as evidenced from examples of successful social purpose brands. Social purpose brands focus on purpose and profit equally, and are able to engage customers in their commitment to create a better world and serve society.
The research question directing my project is: How do social purpose brands inspire customers into action and influence customer engagement?
Customer engagement is the two-way interaction between the brand and its customers, between customers and third parties in the ecosystem, and between customers and their social networks. These connections can inform attitudes towards a brand and influence customer decision-making.
The theoretical framework guiding this research consists of stakeholder theory, social networks theory and theory of consumption values, and draws literature from management, consumer behavior and marketing and communication disciplines.
The qualitative research study will include customer engagement case studies of social purpose brands at different stages of growth and maturity, content and thematic analysis of their marketing and communication artefacts and a survey to understand customer attitudes and behaviors around social purpose brands.
The research will address gaps in literature about social purpose brands, and how customer engagement around social purpose can be a lever to drive sustainable systemic transformation of the business ecosystem.
One potential outcome will be a framework of guidelines and practices that purpose-led brands can use to engage customers around their social commitment.
I look forward to sharing more about my research throughout this journey.