Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe companies should take the lead in driving social and environmental change—and more and more companies are stepping up. As a recent New York Times headline put it, “Businesses Look at Washington and Say, ‘Never Mind, We’ll Do It’.”
There’s no question the role of business in society is changing—and at a rapid pace. The assertion that businesses should merely make money for shareholders is quite simply outdated. In fact, companies need to address not only issues directly relevant to their business operations, but also those that are not—7 in 10 Americans think companies have the obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant or related to their everyday business, according to a 2017 study by Cone Communications. Furthermore, consumers are purchasing based on values, not just product attributes or price. A huge majority, 87 percent, will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 76 percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services on learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
Companies with short- and long-term success in mind are transforming the way they do business to embed purpose at the core. These companies are building bottom-line benefits while making a positive impact on society. Purpose isn’t a marketing tactic, a quick campaign, or a moment-in-time effort—it’s deeply embedded into brand identity and the experience companies deliver. Purpose creates relationships with consumers that go far beyond transactional or product-based relationships. And when companies maximize it, they position themselves to build deeper bonds, expand their consumer base, and enlist others to amplify their brand message.