Pay It Forward: Brands With Sustainable Focus Outperform The Market

It may sound like something Don Draper would say, but the most iconic brands speak to the heart and trigger an emotional reaction. According to a recent study by the firm Havas, it turns out that the brands that are considered more meaningful in our lives and communities also do better financially – outperforming the stock market by 120%.   

The group looked at 700 brands across 23 countries, and measured the impact of the brand’s benefits alongside its impact on areas of well-being, such as health, happiness, financial, community, and relationships. 

Consumers are increasingly looking to the private sector to solve problems, and this study confirmed that respondents said that almost three-fourths (71%) of large companies should be actively involved in solving social problems. 

The findings revealed an interesting disconnect between people and brands – the majority of people worldwide wouldn’t care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow, and only 20 percent of brands were seen to positively impact people’s lives. This disconnect is far greater in the US, where people wouldn’t care if 92% of brands disappeared and believe that only 9% of brands notably contribute to improving people’s quality of life

A key message for sustainability marketers – the study revealed that only 32% of respondents reported feeling that brands honestly communicate about their commitments and promises. And while respondents believe that 71% of companies should play a role in improving the quality of life and well-being, disappointingly, only 39% actually do this. 

As Havas stated in its findings, “Personal well-being and emotional connection have become increasingly important in 2013. Nevertheless, the most meaningful global brands take a holistic approach, balancing both personal and collective well-being.”

Top brands in the U.S. were Amazon, Target, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell, Google, Kraft, Glad, Microsoft, Reynolds and Oral B. 

The results are a powerful confirmation of the important role that we have as sustainability marketers and communicators. It helps establish the business case for the work we do – to push companies to be thinking systematically and achieving sustainability goals for the sake of their employees and communities. It also is a poignant reminder of the need for transparency and honesty because these values are directly tied back to a company’s reputation.

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