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How brand purpose helps the bottom line

Social and environmental purpose can be a powerful tool for a brand - Mariella Menato explains why it's not just good for reputation and marketing, but for the bottom line too.

Mariella Menato Denomination

Brand purpose is the topic ‘de jour’ as a means for marketers to engage consumers with relevant and meaningful brand behaviour. However, it is not only the consumer that stands to benefit from a brand’s commitment to social purpose. Its impact can stretch to its employees, the planet and the company’s bottom line. 

Let’s start with people. From the growers to the makers to the sellers: without people the brands we love would cease to exist. People want to feel good about the work they do, and so enticing the best and brightest to come and work with you, harbouring a positive culture and work environment, and inspiring the future leaders of our industry, is a much easier task for those businesses that champion a vision for a better tomorrow.

In a recent study, 91 per cent of people said they placed an increased value on living life with a sense of purpose, up 10 per cent on two years prior. In fact, that same study suggested that more than nine out of 10 employees would be willing to trade a portion of their salaries over their lifetimes to enjoy a greater sense of purpose in their careers. I liken it to the way that NGOs are often able to select from the crème de la crème of Oxbridge and Ivy League graduates. Brand owners and businesses can attract the most talented marketers to their companies by offering them more meaningful careers. 

Of course, attracting talented people is one thing, but getting the best out of them is another. This is where having strong company values and purpose embedded in the culture can help exponentially. When employees believe in the work they are doing and enjoy a sense of fulfilment, their productivity soars. One shining example of this theory is Patagonia. But in the drinks industry, brands such as Absolut lead the way. In its slightly cheeky campaign, ‘The Vodka with Nothing to Hide’, Absolut employees bare all in a spoof induction video to demonstrate the company’s values. 

In a study carried out earlier this year, employees that considered their work to be ‘more than just a job’ were 11 times more committed to staying with their current employers, 14 times more likely to look forward to coming to work and four times as likely to put in extra effort than their peers at competitor businesses.

There are more obvious and immediate benefits of driving social purpose as brand owners, too. Society’s need for purpose-led solutions, climate solutions, waste reduction solutions, are all at the forefront of what’s driving our industry’s most exciting innovations. It is those brands that identify and pioneer these resolutions that will carve out their place as industry leaders over the next decade. 

From product innovations like Air Co’s vodka, which is made from COcaptured from the atmosphere, to sustainable packaging formats like Wild Glass, and the paper bottles being brought out by the likes of Johnnie Walker, Absolut and the luxury Ruinart Champagne house – these are innovations that will change the landscape of our industry forever. 

Then there is the question of how we deliver these products and the future mechanics of retail itself. With the shift to waste-free solutions, exciting innovations are already taking place. Proof & Company’s ecoSPIRITS is a prime example: an on-trade-specific packaging format that not only negates the need for single-use bottles, but drastically reduces costs along the supply chain, enabling the company to invest more in research and development. Forward-thinking wineries and breweries across the world are installing refill growler stations on premises to encourage consumers to avoid single-use packaging, and services like Loop open the door for the refill model to start becoming more commonplace in people’s day-to-day routines.

Finally, there is the slightly unsavoury idea of what is done with our industry’s by-products, a vital cog in the circular economy, and one that is just in its infancy in terms of consumer-facing initiatives. Examples including Trash Tiki, whose mission is to educate bartenders on how they can reduce waste in the industry, grew from a pop-up in 2016 to a 10-month, five-continent world tour in 2017. From cocktails made using bar ‘waste’ like lemon rinds, to fruit pilsners such as BeerFarm, which uses the lumpy, bumpy watermelons that retailers won’t accept, product innovations that work to reduce waste are an exciting aspect of our industry’s future.

From team strength and culture, to innovation, leadership and profit margin – purpose in our industry is not only the ‘right thing to do’, it’s the smart thing to do. 

5 February 2021