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What Is Purpose-Driven Marketing?

John Boitnott

May 26, 2020

As more and more people want the values of the brands they engage with to align with their own, marketers are employing purpose-driven campaigns to create emotional connections with their target audiences.

A purpose-driven brand is one that openly puts its core values at the forefront of everything it does. Purpose-driven marketing campaigns are a way for a company or brand to engage with a target audience based on their shared needs and interests—including supporting worthy causes.

While many organizations give back to their communities, businesses that employ effective purpose-driven marketing strategies are successful in using those efforts to create meaningful content. Here are some of the most successful recent examples of purpose marketing on display in the world.

A Sense of Purpose that Resonates with Customers

1. Patagonia: #CrudeAwakening

Protecting the Earth is a priority for Patagonia. Their “New Localism” platform encompasses numerous goals, raises awareness about the hazards our planet faces on a daily basis, and brings their customers together to raise awareness in their particular areas of concern.

The #CrudeAwakening campaign’s goal is to protect coastlines from oil spills. This came about after the Refugio oil spill near Santa Barbara in May of 2015 which polluted coastal areas and harmed marine life. The power of the Patagonia customer community with the brand’s support resulted in three laws passed to impose strict regulations on offshore drilling.

2. Austrailia Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die

The Dumb Ways to Die campaign is a great example of purpose-driven marketing coming from somewhere other than typical consumer-driven sources. McCann-Melbourne, the agency that created the campaign, delivered a message to Melbourne, Australia's train-riding public that had been previously ignored or dismissed because of safety messages being typically received as boring by their audiences.

Through the use of tasteful humor, the campaign used newspapers, local radio, outdoor signs, and a video that wound up going viral to get Melbourne’s train riders to think about safety. It resulted in 30 percent drop in near-miss accidents in less than a year.

3. Uber and MADD - Get Home Safe

Sometimes a company isn't in the position to launch a social impact effort on its own. But when two companies with complementary missions partner together, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. A great example of this is the partnership between Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Over July 4th weekend of 2017, Uber offered a discount code that, when redeemed, made an automatic donation to MADD. By partnering with an established nonprofit, Uber helped raise its social-consciousness profile and establish itself as a purpose-driven business.

4. Ripple Foods - Our Progress, Your Impact

In 2018, Ripple Foods made Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list for making a dairy alternative using pea protein. Instead of focusing their marketing toward vegetarians and vegans, they decided to take a more purpose-driven approach by showing milk drinkers the positive effects they could have on the environment by switching to their dairy-free alternative.

In 2016, Ripple started “Our Progress, Your Impact,” an annual report to customers that summarizes the carbon savings, water reduction, and sugar avoidance Ripple’s customers have made over that year from simply purchasing their product. If your customers’ purchases have made an impact, quantifying that information and sharing it with them helps it make an even bigger impact.

5. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Friends vs. COVID19

What could be a better conclusion to an article about purpose-driven brands than seven of the largest and most influential companies banding together to take on this year’s largest challenge: the coronavirus pandemic. On March 16, 2020, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube released a joint statement citing the increasing impact of the coronavirus across the world and stating their commitment to keeping people connected as well as combating misinformation about the disease. This statement was a powerful message because it was backed by seven giants of tech committing their considerable resources to a global mission.

Marketing with a Mission

Purpose-driven marketing proves that doing good and making money are not mutually exclusive. When you hitch your brand purpose to a social conscience, the result can be not only a better bottom line, but a loyal, devoted customer base that identifies with your organization as a whole, not just an individual product.