Industry creative chief Steve Harrison might have to eat his own caustic words on brand purpose marketing campaigns after a new analysis has found that brands including Bisto, Lifebuoy, Waitrose and Kenco have used the activity to drive customer acquisition and boost market share.
Effectiveness expert Peter Field outlined his case for the potential power of brand purpose campaigns at the IPA EffWorks Global 2021 Conference, using his new analysis from the IPA Effectiveness Awards Databank.
Studying the Databank, Field has compared and contrasted 47 brand purpose cases with 333 non-purpose cases over the same period, from which he is able to show that brand purpose can be highly effective.
While Field acknowledges that brand purpose is too often poorly executed, he argues that it is early days for the approach and identified a number of ways for how brand purpose can be more effective.
Field said: “When brand purpose is done well, it can be incredibly effective, but to be good there are particular learnings to observe.”
Using a set definition of brand purpose, Field is upfront about his initial top-line finding which could validate some scepticism.
According to this figure, the average number of very large business effects for all non-purpose campaigns stands at 1.6. For brand purpose campaigns this figure stands markedly lower at 1.1. However, and crucially, when delving into the data further, it is clear that there are sharp and explainable differences between strongly executed brand purpose cases and weakly executed ones.
By studying the 57% of brand purpose cases that perform strongly, Field observes the considerable potential rewards of the approach and the key features of these strong campaigns. He argues that many more brand purpose campaigns could enjoy these rewards if they learnt the lessons from the successful ones.
The analysis reveals that half (50%) of strong purpose cases achieved large customer acquisition effects compared to under a third (30%) of all non-purpose. Meanwhile over two-fifths (41%) of strong purpose cases drove large market share growth compared with only a quarter (26%) for all non-purpose cases.
Delving into these brand effects, Field observes particular strengths for strongly executed brand purpose across metrics associated with brand appeal: trust, commitment and fame, as well as across metrics associated with distinctiveness: differentiation, image and awareness.
Field argues that these observations refute the blanket criticisms of brand purpose as an ineffective approach, but goes on to show that brand purpose has some considerable innate strengths that outperform alternative approaches.
Chief among these are its impacts on suppliers and distributors as well as on investors, arguing that improving environmental, social and governance performance is of immediate appeal to these important stakeholders, who respond positively to advertising that shows genuine commitment to doing so.
Similarly, positive media coverage of brand purpose campaigns is generally stronger than of alternative approaches. This can help to amplify the effectiveness of brand purpose.
Additionally strong brand purpose is shown to have powerful effects on employee satisfaction.
Field pinpoints the four key areas where better execution of brand purpose can lead to strong effectiveness, highlighting specific cases:
• Physical availability: strong cases work closely with distributors aligned to purpose, to develop bespoke in-store presence. (For example the Skittles and SK-II cases)
• Mental availability and distinctiveness: strong cases clearly align purpose to product virtues/benefits and ensure this is credible. (See Dove, Kenco, Lifebuoy, Velvet, Waitrose cases)
• Penetration growth: strong cases use purpose to strengthen association with category entry points. (Ella’s Kitchen, Lifebuoy cases)
• Mass appeal: strong cases align purpose to popular issues amongst target market. (Bisto, Lifebuoy, Volvo Australia cases)
Field added: “What these findings show is that we shouldn’t dismiss brand purpose out of hand. As we see here, there can be considerable benefits for companies in deploying brand purpose campaigns – both for engaging their own employees, stakeholders and investors as well as for driving customer sales. When it is done well, when it is genuine and credible, brand purpose can be very powerful.”
IPA director of marketing strategy and executive director IPA Eff Works Janet Hull said: “Even though brand purpose is a relatively new science, there is already evidence coming from the IPA Databank of the range of its appeal to different stakeholders. Given growing industry interest in brand purpose strategies we can expect to see many more cases in the 2022 IPA Effectiveness Awards to take our learning forward.”
Just don’t tell Steve Harrison…
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