The idea of a brand having a purpose isn’t new. All brands have always had one, but today, that word means something much different to consumers. Today, purpose is more about what the brand stands for than it is about why it exists. Yes, consumers want to know the brand, buy from the brand and talk about the brand, but they ultimately will only stand up for the brand if they believe it has a meaningful purpose.
One way brands are attracting the attention of affluent consumers is through making their brand’s purpose transcend the goods or services, while also giving them the opportunity to build a reputation and share that giving with their social circles. Now more than ever, companies and brands with a genuine purpose can appeal uniquely to affluent audiences.
Because the affluent transcend generations, marketing strategy shifts slightly between millennials who want to give and the Gen X and Yers who can give, but the brand that can humanize its purpose is the one that can connect with any age. Making a good cause look like a good cause will enact action in this audience.
We live and work in one of the most charitably generous cities in the country — Dallas, Texas. The affluent here want to make a difference. And they do. Just about every week there is a different gala, luncheon, or auction that raises millions of dollars for local and national philanthropic groups.
A glance at the Dallas Morning News’ headlines add up: $860,000 for UNICEF, $100,000 for breast cancer research, $400,000 for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and $1 million for Planned Parenthood. Safe to say, we like to give back. Nationally, in 2016 Barron’s reported 91% of the affluent are charitable, compared to 59% of the general population. It’s clear this audience is worth tapping, especially philanthropically, but marketers have to do it the right way. And that is where purpose comes into play.
To use a Dallas example, a nonprofit here is hitting its stride in the community after about two years at the start-up level. It’s a unique place, half-restaurant and half-training program for at-risk men and women coming out of the juvenile detention system. While its executive chef and founder/CEO is beloved by foodies for his culinary mastery, it is his unwavering commitment to changing the lives of the young people he employs that gives his restaurant something more — purpose.
Now, instead of diners only raving about his food (which they do, by the way), they also share the experience they had interacting with the restaurant’s inner-city wait staff. The purpose becomes the brand — and it appeals to affluent diners’ charitable giving mindset in a way that is unique, meaningful and impactful.
What it has is a visual story. Diners enter the restaurant and interact with the exact people their donation impacts. The idea of seeing is believing is alive and well here, and while not easy to replicate, it’s what makes people want to give. That said, though, putting purpose front and center is a strategy that marketers can use — as long as it’s real.
The key to connecting with affluent consumers in a meaningful way is through a visible purpose. Finding a way to weave the “why” into a product or service is what’s going to prompt a consumer to dig a little deeper and perhaps spend a little more.