‘Purpose’ is now a powerful force helping companies build deeper consumer connections and improve competitiveness

TORONTO–Fifty-five percent of Canadian consumers prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs, and are ditching those that don’t, according to new research from Accenture.

The fourteenth annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research – ‘From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand’ – surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers from around the world, including nearly 1,500 Canadian consumers, to gauge their expectations of brands and companies today. The study found that companies that stand for something bigger than what they sell, communicate their purpose and demonstrate commitment, are more likely to attract consumers and influence purchasing decisions which improves competitiveness.

“Purpose is more than companies simply responding to issues of the day. It’s about having a genuine and meaningful commitment to important principles that consumers care about – such as health and wellbeing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and fair treatment of employees – which inform every business decision,” said Kelly Askew, a managing director at Accenture Strategy. “Many companies have neglected to convey purpose due to complacency or the fear of polarizing people, which has allowed smaller players to rise.”

Purpose influencing purchasing decisions
Fifty-two percent of Canadian consumers want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts. Moreover, 55 percent say their purchasing decisions are influenced by the words, values and actions of a company’s leaders. Consumers are attracted to organizations that are committed to using good quality ingredients (83 percent), treat employees well (66 percent), and believe in reducing plastics and improving the environment (58 percent).

Authenticity and trust driving growth
Today, 57 percent of consumers say their purchasing consideration is driven by a company’s ethical values and authenticity. Furthermore, 68 percent crave greater transparency in how companies source their products, ensure safe working conditions and their stance on important issues such as animal testing.

“In this era of radical transparency, consumers are voicing their opinions, values and beliefs, scrutinizing the actions of organizations and their leadership, and holding them accountable. They can see through inauthenticity and won’t tolerate it,” said Suzana Colic, a senior manager at Accenture Strategy. “Consumers’ voices can change the financial trajectory of companies. They are more than buyers – they are active stakeholders who are investing their time and attention and want to feel a sense of shared purpose. The winners in this era will not be passive bystanders.”

Consumers changing the trajectory of companies
Over 61 percent of consumers believe their individual protest actions, such as boycotting a company or speaking out on social media, can make a difference in how companies behave. Twenty-seven percent have been disappointed by how a company acted which betrayed consumers’ belief in what the company stands for, and 37 percent have stopped doing business with the company as a result.

Organizations that want to build stronger consumer connections and sustain their competitiveness by becoming purpose-led can do so by:

Defining what their business stands for: Companies need to determine the larger role they want to play in their customers’ lives and put a stake in the ground. Leaders can do that by understanding what their customers feel passionately about, why their employees choose to work for them and why other businesses partner with them. They’ll find what makes the company special and can use it to make a difference.

Being clear and authentic: Consumers can see through inauthenticity. If a company is truly committed to its purpose, its principles guide every business decision. This purpose will bind consumers, employees and shareholders alike. It requires bold leadership where actions speak louder than words.
Engaging consumers on a deeper level: With consumers actively aligning themselves to specific companies and having a stake in their success, businesses can capitalise on this energy by getting customers involved in co-creating new products and services, designing initiatives or partnerships, and investing in the company’s growth in exchange for personalized rewards. Including customers in their innovation ecosystem will help companies maintain their relevance, identify new growth opportunities and markets, and keep them on track with delivering on their promises.

The fourteenth annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers from around the world to understand their expectations from the brands and companies they buy products and services from today. The survey included online responses from respondents in 35 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom and the United States. The survey was conducted from August – October 2018.

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 469,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives

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