May 04, 2023
Latest CMO Council research shows that in order for brands to connect with their customers, they need to prioritise purpose and become conscious corporate socially responsible brands. The marketer’s journey towards growing authentic brands which are also responsible corporate citizens trusted by consumers, continues to evolve.
When alerting Chief Marketers as to the disruptive market conditions they will face in 2023, CMO Council Founder and Executive Director, Donovan Neale-May, highlighted that “climate consternation and ESG compliance measurement” would feature high on strategic agendas for marketing leadership.
To showcase how marketers can include corporate social responsibility initiatives and investment for demonstrable brand growth, CMO Council launched the Doing Better By Doing Good Program this year to show the value of business with a purpose in a pilot program in an emerging market such as South Africa.
“Increasingly, there is pressure on brands -- particularly those doing business in emerging markets -- to be cause-committed, truthful, authentic, community engaged, and morally and culturally aligned with how they can help the planet and society as a whole. Doing Better by Doing Good, a new CMO Council initiative in 2023, will audit, identify, and showcase corporate best practices and successes in blending self-interest with altruism. It will evidence private sector commitment to ESG and sustainability progress, the benefits of CSI spend, and the value realized from improving the wellbeing of people, communities, living conditions, and micro-economies.”
The impetus for the program is bolstered by a recent CMO Council poll among its high profile global marketing members on what they viewed as the essential benefit for making a stand as an ethical brand and evidencing corporate social responsibility in business. Findings indicate most senior marketers believe the biggest gain will come from furthering customer relationships and brand affinity:
Customer preference/trust - 62%
Employee affinity/loyalty - 28%
Financial performance/gain - 6%
Investor confidence/support - 4%
As CMO Council has unpacked, areas of discovery and discussion with chief marketers and reputation leaders around the globe, needs to include:
Key sustainability drivers
Apart from various ESG regulatory factors in different regions of the world, there is a strong generational shift against brands behaving badly or not showing sufficient sustainable practices.
In our recent blog on latest consumer behaviour patterns among Gen Z, research shows that this younger generation may be the most disruptive generation to date. Gen Z are the most diverse, non-conformist, socially-aware and disruptive generation of the past 100 years.
A two-year study published recently by management consultants OliverWyman, What Business Needs To Know About The Generation Changing Everything, says this younger generation will punish brands for “performative activism, ‘goodwashing’, or false advertising”.
“They prefer brands with an open, and even vulnerable, style. They want relatable brands that invite them into genuine conversations where they are heard. Their individuality, morality, and preference for experience over possessions are seared into their DNA,” the OliverWyman research report states. READ MORE>
Whether there is profit in purpose is the question asked in our blog on purpose-driven marketing. “Purpose-driven marketing has become all the rage among CPG retail brands and others, but does it really deliver the goods? The short answer: For many brands, yes, so long as marketers aren’t purpose-washing. Put another way, there’s brand risk in lip service,” writes CMO Council Chief Content Officer, Tom Kaneshige.
Purpose-driven marketing is a concept describing how brands can bond with customers based on shared interests. It dovetails with the idea of corporate social responsibility. Purpose-driven marketing often takes a while to pay off in brand and exposure, says MountainTop Data, making it unappealing to most business owners.
But brands shouldn’t engage in purpose-driven marketing solely to maximize shareholder value anyway. According to Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer and president of healthcare business at Mastercard, a company should pursue a purpose for two main reasons: If marketers can do good for society, they should, and having a purpose also helps build trust with customers and employees.
“Companies need to pursue purpose because it is the right thing to do, because consumers are willing to vote with their wallets in favor of purpose-led brands, because younger generations of people want to work only in purpose-driven organizations,” writes Rajamannar in his new book Quantum Marketing.
This isn’t just idealistic talk, either. Companies stand to gain real sales. According to a 2018 Edelman study, 87% of people say brands must stand up for what they believe in, while 64% say they will buy or boycott a brand based on its stance on a social or political issue.
Want more proof? BrandTotal, a social competitive intelligence and brand analytics platform, released a report that found some of the most successful CPG retail brands zeroing in on sustainability and connecting purpose to profit. READ MORE>
Louise has 25 years’ experience in B2B publishing as an award-winning editor, columnist and journalist on media brands in Africa; also working with brands/NGOs as a content strategist. She is currently Editorial Director of the CMO Council; lectures in Marketing & Advertising Communications at Red & Yellow School of Creative Business in Cape Town, SA; and writes and edits retail brand blog RetailingAfrica.com. She holds a Masters in Commerce: Strategy and Organisational Dynamics, from University of KwaZulu Natal, in conjunction with Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and UK Open University.