Purpose is becoming one of the defining points for brands. No longer connected solely with Millennials, purpose-driven brands are now catching on with the next generation of consumers. In fact, 70% of Gen-Z (born 1995-2015) and Millennials favor purpose-driven brands. This is compared to 48% of Boomers and Matures, according to a global Strength of Purpose Study.

Consumers are 4X more likely to purchase a purpose-driven brand.

But what is a purpose-driven brand? A purpose-driven brand is motivated by a larger company mission. This mission is the internal fire or passion that inspires the societal change. Truly purpose-driven brands weave this into their branding, their innovation efforts, their marketing and any other element that the brand touches.

Purpose-driven brands can run the gamut. Some, like Purely Elizabeth, the maker of natural breakfast foods, donate a portion of profits to a relevant cause. However, for this article, we will focus on those who have fully embraced their cause in thought, word and deed.  

Rebbl beverages is one such example. Rebbl was born from a desire to develop a business solution to the human trafficking in Peru. The founders’ intent is to craft a beverage made solely from native ingredients sourced in a sustainable way from Peru and other regions in need of economic empowerment. In addition to impacting their cause, they have been showcased by CNN as part of the Freedom Project and selected by B Corp as a Best For the World honoree.

Another example is Tony’s Chocolonely, the eponymous maker of the specialty Dutch chocolate bars. The brand’s mission is to fight the slavery which has arisen due to the cocoa trade. This mission occupies prime real estate on all consumer communication and is celebrated at each shareholder meeting where impact, not profits are applauded.

Leading with a purpose to unite a target group is a strategy frequently used by D2C start-up brands, like Hanahana beauty. The Chicago-based purveyor of shea-butter based beauty products celebrates Black beauty, but also weaves the fair sourcing of its key ingredient into the brand story. Shea butter was the cure-all beauty remedy of the founder's mother. No longer is one buying another shea butter cream, but rather a clean skin care product impacting the Black community in Ghana.

The shift to becoming a more purpose-driven brand is impacting every category as consumers realize that they can vote with their wallets.

Investing in becoming a more purpose-driven brand is a win-win for brands and their consumers:

  • Authentic Connections. Being a purpose-driven brand, whether impacting the environment, human rights or another social issue, allows brands to connect to their tribe on a deeper and more meaningful level.  This inspires loyalty which is often hard to come by in a commodity good market, which many food brands fall into.
  • Focused Outreach. Truly understanding what the brand stands for allows the brand to more strategically chose when and where the brand’s voice should be heard and where it will be welcomed with open arms by its constituency.
  • Brand Growth. Brands driven by strong values, which connect with a given consumer, are ideally suited to expand their reach to other categories where the brand purpose is also relevant. This further builds the value of the brand and increases the number of consumer touchpoints.
  • Innovate Successfully. A Harvard EY Beacon Institute study documented that half (53%) of companies with a strong sense of purpose see themselves as being successful innovators. In contrast, this number drops to 19% amongst companies with out a strong sense of purpose.

Successful purpose-driven brands think deeply and are true to themselves. They embrace the shift from the individual to realizing that they actually can change the world.

Annette Herz

Annette is skilled at identifying growth opportunities and successfully guiding products from concept to launch. At Compass, she advises leading brands and category disruptors in the health & wellness, personal care and digital health sectors.

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