7 in 10 UK business leaders say having a ‘purpose’ will be critical driver for post-pandemic growth, says new report

A new study has found that 7 out of 10 business leaders believe that future brand and organisational growth in the pandemic and post-pandemic economy can only be achieved by ensuring they become more ‘purpose-led’ and socially driven.

The research involving 502 CEOs and Managing Directors, conducted by Clearly PR and published in a whitepaper entitled ‘The Role of ‘Purpose’ in Driving the Post-Pandemic Economy,’ highlighted the need for brands to prioritise social purpose over profits in line with shifting consumer attitudes that are influencing purchasing decisions.

The study also found that with the looming global recession, 88 per cent of business leaders believe that brands will prioritise profit over social purpose in the short term with many still operating in ‘survival’ mode.

An important finding was the lack of understanding among business leaders as to what is meant by ‘brand purpose’:
· 43 per cent understood that brand purpose referred to what the business has set out to achieve for the wider good of society
· One in four (25 per cent) thought that ‘brand purpose’ refers to how the business makes money
· 21 per cent said that brand purpose related to what the business does
· 11 per cent conceded to not fully understanding what it means

“It would appear that many business leaders are confusing brand purpose with corporate social responsibility (CSR). But the two are very different entities,” said Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, Founder & Managing Director at Clearly PR & Marketing Communications.

“Brand purpose needs to be product or service led. It is causally linked to the benefits that a business brings and the very reason why it exists in the first place and they use their company to advance that cause.

“Tesla is a great example of this, its purpose is ‘the acceleration of sustainable energy’. CSR for its part, is how a brand gives back to its community and supports worthy causes.”

The study also found:
· 61 per cent stated that they would choose a supplier with a clear social purpose over one that doesn’t
· Four out of five (80 per cent) business leaders and key decision makers said they would do so even if that supplier was more expensive than the next alternative

“Brands can no longer pay lip service to the idea of contributing to society in some meaningful way,” said Paul MacKenzie-Cummins.

“As we saw during the height of the pandemic, consumers are shunning those businesses whose only intention is to maintain a relationship with them on the proviso it yields a monetary return.

“Consumer purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by what brands and businesses stand for – their purpose. But it must be genuine and brand leaders need to be prepared to take a few risks.

“For a brand to be truly purpose-driven, it must be willing to take a stance on what it sees as social injustices no matter how difficult or divisive the subject matter, and even if that means making itself vulnerable to criticism.”

On whom will lead the change towards a more purpose-led society:
· 35 per cent said it will be consumers
· 35 per cent believe it will be down to business leaders themselves
· 23 per cent suggest that employee-pressure will push brands and businesses into becoming more socially conscious
· 1 per cent of respondents believe that the Government will drive change

There is acceptance among business leader that any change will be driven by consumers and brands repurposing themselves to better manage and meet the expectations of their target markets.

Given the clear correlation between having a purpose-led product or service with increased competitiveness and greater influence over purchasing decisions, we are likely to see a spike in the number of businesses moving closer towards establishing their brand purpose and making this centre stage.

The full results are available in whitepaper format, and can be download via the following link: ‘The Role of ‘Purpose’ in Driving the Post-Pandemic Economy’.