Thirty-five years ago or so, American Express came up with the phrase: “Doing well by doing good.”
Marketers have embraced the idea — so much so that they are now out in front of their customers, judging by Purpose Matters, a study by the American Marketing Association-New York, conducted by Toluna and Charney Research.
This study posits that people want the brands they engage with to promote “racial equality, corporate citizenship in their communities, and environmental sustainability.”
But don’t lose any sleep if you’re not promoting these values in your email. Depending on your product, these issues may be the last things on the minds of shoppers.
Clearly, some companies are more “woke” than their customers.
For example, 47% of firms say it’s important be a good employer. But only 34% of consumers support that idea.
In addition, 44% of firms cite corporate citizenship (giving back to community/customers) as an issue, versus 25% of consumers.
Next is inclusion and diversity in the workplace — 40% of companies see it as an issue to be addressed, compared to 15% of consumers.
Another issue is sustainability and environmental impact — 39% of companies espouse it, but only 25% of consumers demand it.
The numbers get lower on both sides as we go down the list of liberal line items:
The study notes that these differences are true in “most categories of businesses, whether by size sector or customer type.”
First, consumers may be more progressive than this study indicates: They simply don’t let get their social/political views get in the way of buying from brands. Or they may believe that companies are insincere, and that it doesn’t matter what they say their values are.
Here are the findings on those points. For starters, consumers with higher incomes are more likely to buy from brands they view as purpose-driven:
And, those in the upper brackets are willing to pay more to purpose-driven brands:
Of high-income people polled, 40% say brands are very sincere, compared to 17% of the total sample. And, overall, 29% believe companies are insincere.
The willingness to pay more also varies by generation:
What those purposes should be also differs by age group:
And, they vary by race and ethnicity:
Email teams might want to run some numbers to determine income levels, gender and racial/ethnic backgrounds, then seek to reflect their company’s value in copy. Or maybe they had better wait until they hear from the C-suite.
Toluna and Charney Research surveyed 506 consumers and 411 marketers in August 2021.
Lots to question here in these results. Three that jump out at me are:
"Protecting voting rights and democracy" is a "liberal line item"? Really? So you're saying that conservatives are against voting rights and democracy... In this country and in the free world, shouldn't these "line items" be universally valued?