You can’t just have a mission. You have to be on a mission.

When we think about some of the most memorable social impact campaigns, we often admire them for their unique approach to making a powerful statement.

But making a statement is no longer enough if

you want today’s socially conscious consumer to pay attention and care about your brand – and you should – as they aren’t so small you can place them in the ‘other’ segment.  They’re increasingly sophisticated, voting with their wallets and sharing their decisions with their peers.

At 83 million people, millennials account for a quarter of the population of the United States, making them the largest living generation. And consider that 84% of millennials don’t like traditional advertising and 58% hate advertising (citation from the McCarthy Group).

So we’re seeing businesses shift from traditional marketing and advertising to a purpose-driven approach. Consider that 16 of 21 Cannes Grand Prix Awards in 2019 featured purpose.

Just look at Nike’s “Dream Crazy” ad with Colin Kaepernick and Proctor & Gambles “The Talk” ad – two major corporations taking a stand on controversial issues. These ads were not aimed directly at promoting products, but at addressing social issues. In the case of Nike and Kaepernick, online sales jumped 31% after the campaign launched (source).

While there’s always the very real risk of alienating audiences, there are numerous studies that show today’s consumer is looking for purpose-driven brands that they can align their values with – as a way of “voting with your dollars” to show support for a brand’s messaging outside of their specific product.

Not only are companies increasingly willing to speak up for causes they support but consumers practically demand that they do. The 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study found that “78% of Americans believe companies must do more than just make money; they must positively impact society as well”; and two-thirds of consumers surveyed say they would switch to a product from a purpose-driven company, and 68% say they would feel more willing to share content with their social networks from purpose-driven companies than traditional companies.

In many of these examples, purpose works for general awareness.  But how do you convert awareness into authentic and ongoing engagement that builds your audience and their loyalty to your brand?

This article is co-authored by Kevin Thompson and Matt Berry, longtime friends and colleagues who share a past at IBM Corporation. Kevin and Matt each had roles in shaping both Marketing and Citizenship programs at IBM, and have continued to explore ways of combining socially conscious brand development with marketing and revenue generation goals. GOOD/Upworthy and Conversion are seeking opportunities to jointly support innovative marketing teams with new program development. Please visit: www.goodinc.com and www.conversionam.com.

Read the next article in the series: Shifting Marketing Strategies in 2020