Catalyst

Brands are wearing purpose like a badge

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla | Updated on March 20, 2020 Published on March 20, 2020

Cause marketing is taking centre stage in a big way

The brand purpose at Columbia Pacific Communities, a senior living community operator, which has close to 1,600 residential units under management in five cities, is to champion the cause of positive ageing.

“This purpose came to us quite organically. It is not just our brand credo. In many ways, it is our singular, unifying war cry,” says Piali Dasgupta, VP-Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities.

Over the past year, the company, which has created nine senior living communities across South India, has expressed this purpose in myriad ways. Its integrated digital marketing campaign ‘Relearn’, launched last year, was created with the sole objective of shattering age-related stereotypes. In another campaign and in a bid to take the message of positive ageing to the streets of Bengaluru, a few days before last Christmas, the company presented South India’s first senior citizens flash mob at busy locations such as Church Street, Brigade Road, Garuda Mall and VR Bengaluru Mall.

“Nine senior citizens, dressed in Christmas red, wearing Santa hats, danced to Jingle Bell Rock and Jingle Bells in crowded public spaces. This experiential marketing campaign drove home the message that age is never a deterrent in driving one’s passions and aspirations,” says Dasgupta, adding that purpose-driven marketing is the present and also the future. “It is what differentiates a transactional brand from a brand that is high on EQ. It is the only way a brand can build a real, lasting connection with its audience,” she says.

Doing good

Cause marketing has taken centre stage in a big way. Finding and implementing brand purpose into marketing has been shown to lead to incredible growth and brands are going the extra mile to introduce purpose into both their offerings as well as interactions with consumers.

Take Dropledge, a Mumbai-based, social cause-focused tech company, which recently released a game to promote clean oceans and highlight the dangers of plastic dissemination.

With the underlying philosophy ‘Where play is purpose’, Dropledge envisions collective participation to eradicate societal and environmental issues. Sonia D’Souza-Bhavsar, Co-Founder, Dropledge, says issues of global scale cannot be solved by a few individuals. The firm uses scientific research and analysis to understand the origin of issues, existing state, the efforts taken and the missing gap.

Sheetal Kadam, Co-Founder, Dropledge, adds that the gamified initiative brings in collective engagement towards the cause of saving marine life.

Most marketers tend to recognise the value of developing content based on a shared interest in supporting a worthy cause or taking a stand, but success in purpose-driven marketing requires brands to go beyond that.

Brands need to execute the right purpose-driven marketing strategy in an authentic, organic way that brings benefit to everyone involved.

Ad veteran Ramesh Narayan insists, “a higher purpose is a great differentiator in a world of almost perfect competition. That is just the first hook. Today’s younger customer is seeking far more than just the basic attributes of a product or service.”

It is not enough that Coke is the ‘Real Thing’, he continues. “These days, customers want to know if Coke bottlers are depleting ground water resources in places where it is a problem. Therefore, most large, responsible and smart companies are not just doing good, but also saying they are doing good.”

Authenticity speaks

Trust and authenticity are two incredibly important traits to today’s consumer, says Nick Emery, Global CEO, Mindshare. And since purpose reflects the merit, trustworthiness and authenticity of a brand, it speaks to the brand’s potential for success.

“Any change in the structure of a company is always based on a temperature check of the market. The CEO wants to be one step ahead rather than one step behind. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that most brands these days want to do something with purpose,” adds Emery.

Noting the clarion call across the globe by brands intent on driving a purposeful agenda, the CEO says Mindshare has been including ‘brand purpose’ as an integral part of its campaigns. Emery insists, “Brands want to wear purpose as a badge these days. As we ideate on campaigns, we always include one which reflects the purpose of the brand and add that to the mix.”

Redickaa Subrammanian, CEO and Co-founder of Resulticks, a marketing automation platform concurs. “Purpose-driven marketing empowers businesses to connect and engage with their target audience on a personal level, forming bonds of shared interest and trust that are key to brand preference and loyalty.”

She says brands with a clear social purpose create a three-pronged impact — “the ”first being purpose integration into business which leads to sustainability and scalability; second being purpose-driven marketing which results in reliability and credibility emerging out of goodwill built over time, and thirdly, like-minded external partners brought into the business ecosystem.“

FMCG brands have been taking on a greater purpose by navigating the challenges brought about by the urban-rural divide so prevalent across the country, as did Lifebuoy with ‘The Adaptive Data Lighthouse’ campaign, which tracked the rise of incidences that could lead to communicable diseases.

MA Parthasarathy (Maps), CEO of Mindshare, South Asia, says reaching out to rural consumers has always been a challenge for brands. With 70 per cent of Lifebuoy’s sales coming from rural India, the agency decided to build on Lifebuoy’s identity of being a purpose-driven brand.

Two of Mindshare’s core pillars — data and technology — were utilised to create an innovative alert system.

The agency had identified 21 communicable diseases that could be reduced by hand-washing.

The warning system alerted consumers most at risk of life-threatening diseases through an automatic calling system. Being contextual to the prevalent disease in their village, consumer receptivity was high, resulting in high recall. Mindshare’s campaign, which received several accolades, turned out to be a bright example of purpose-driven marketing as it was relatable.

Rajeev GN, VP-Marketing at home interior design firm HomeLane, says purpose-driven marketing tends to be very relatable at a personal level to consumers.

Moneka Khurana, Country Head, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) India, says, these days everyone wants to feel that they are a part of something bigger. “They are driven to connect, to grow, to make a difference. Customers are passionate about their causes and they love the idea that your brand has one too. That’s the foundation of purpose-driven marketing,” she says.

Published on March 20, 2020

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