trender brandsThe majority of people worldwide wouldn’t care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow, increasing to 92% if you focused only on the US consumer (Havas Media Group, 2013).

It’s a challenge for both established organisations and start-ups to create offerings that are meaningful, relevant and worth people’s hard earned cash. Doing good is no longer a once off donation or investment of time that also doubles up as a great photo opp for the cover of a sustainability report. The correlation between profit and purpose is clear.

The results from Havas Media Group’s 2013 Meaningful Brands study demonstrate that meaningful brands outperform the stock market by 120%. The top two most meaningful brands in the US are Amazon and Target, according to this survey. Globally they are Google and Samsung. Most of these brands share traits in offering value, human focused innovation (improving actual problems people have as opposed to selling us more stuff we don’t need), access and democratization of categories perceived as out of reach to customers.

Some entrepreneurs are linking purpose to profit by building “doing good” into their business models from the start. The point of departure is not to build (often elusive) brand customer “relationships”, but to create offers and products that improve people’s lives and solves problems. Perhaps they are asking “what else?’ along with discovering the big “why?” in defining themselves.

Two companies that have started something that matters are Roast Re:public and Brooklyn Biltong.

In South Africa, Roast Re:public is coffee with a conscience. Buying their coffee will literally change a life. The idea behind the business is using the commodity of coffee to fund education for the most vulnerable children. They sell coffee to individuals and communities on a debit order system, and 50% of the gross profit is allocated to a small community in Limpopo in partnership with World Vision International, a fund that specifically goes towards aiding and enabling education.

In the US, for every bag of biltong bought at Brooklyn Biltong, they give some away to the Brooklyn homeless. This ‘Eat and Feed’ idea was inspired by TOMS (“Start something that matters”).

In response to the digital device and platform take-over of our lives, Landor’s Breakaway Brands study has identified a resurgence of consumer appreciation for more tangible experiences. These experiences are often not activation based marketing interventions, campaigns or promotions, but rather business model innovations to deliver on needs. Perhaps a move away from ad campaigns with a conscience to products and services with actual and visible impact will not only give consumers a reason to stay interested but also go some way in aligning decision making amongst employees.

Generosity as a strategic organizational behaviour need not be the sole domain of social entrepreneurs. This idea of defining a brand’s reason for being is not revolutionary – most brands have found it the key to delivering meaningful offers and interactions with their consumers. However, starting a business outside of the social entrepreneurship realm with “doing good” in mind is still fairly uncommon.

The challenge for established brands is to understand what they can accomplish by being more generous, beyond profit or product to serve people.

Article by Michelle Coetsee Click to view her profile

About the author

Founder and Trend Analyst at TrendER Insights. Mogorosi's passion lies in unearthing consumer insights that will help brands build more meaningful relationships with their consumers. Email: mogorosi@trender.co.za