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Do customers care about purpose?

do customers care about purpose

We’ve all seen the headlines and TikToks when customers take their grievances online, whether it’s a less-than-stellar experience or accusations of greenwashing. Even the best brands can be caught off-guard in these situations. But in my experience, seeking inspiration from your purpose to address feedback can help create a win-win situation for positive customer engagement.

Several industry surveys in recent years show that customers increasingly prefer to do business with brands that lead with purpose, share their values and act upon social commitments. Customers want brands to use their considerable resources to positively impact society and address socio-environmental issues. They expect businesses more than the government to solve today’s challenges and for CEOs to take a public position on societal issues. It’s interesting to note that these expectations vary by geography. In the Ipsos Global Trends Survey 2021, only 51% of respondents in the US and France agree that business leaders should speak out on domestic social and political issues, compared to 68% in Canada and 71% in Australia. In parts of the Global South, the majority of respondents see a role for business in society: Nigeria (87%), Singapore (85%) and South Africa (84%).


Studies also show that purpose-driven brands have more resilient customer relationships. When brands authentically incorporate sustainability into their purpose, it can strengthen customer-brand relationships, foster loyalty and attract new customers who want to make a positive difference in the world through their association with a purposeful brand. While brands believe they’re meeting the purpose expectation, customers do not necessarily agree. Porter/Novelli’s Purpose Priorities Report found that customers have become more skeptical and aren’t willing to attribute reputation based on a purpose statement. They believe brands are lagging in delivering against their social purpose promise and want concrete, long-term commitments and action.


Authenticity and transparency are vital to building credibility with customers. So, while customers care about purpose, they care more about brands matching actions to words and doing it consistently. ‘Do better’ is not always a criticism but a way of holding companies accountable for the prosperity of people and the planet.


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