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Purpose marketing focuses on marketing ethical values rather than merely pursuing commercial goals. Many communications professionals see this as a further development of the classic marketing idea of product and consumer focus. The concept brings new challenges, but also opportunities for organizations.

The development of recent years is clear: it is no longer just the product or service and its clever marketing that determine the success of the company. But also the values that the company represents. What does that mean for the marketing profession?

What is purpose marketing?

Purpose Driven Marketing focuses on the fundamental ethical values and associated actions of a brand or organization. As a rule, organizations achieve this goal through advertising campaigns that convey these messages to the target group.

PDM is a direct response to human development in the 21st century, which is characterized by the search for meaning in all areas of life. Whether private, professional or in relation to your own consumer behavior.

In plain language, this means that today's consumers no longer just want to consume. But he wants to buy from companies whose values and beliefs align with his own. Themes such as sustainability, social involvement and environmental protection are central. If customers recognize themselves in the values of a brand, this leads to an emotional bond. One that you usually do not achieve through traditional product marketing.

What is the purpose of purpose marketing?

With targeted purpose marketing, organizations create a competitive position based on positive emotional experiences of customers. The principle is simple: a large proportion of customers prefer brands that share their values and beliefs. This creates a kind of sense of solidarity, because you stand for something together. This provides a positive emotional experience and the result is a sustainable customer relationship.

Such positioning (see also positioning matrix) and clarification of one's own values results in a strengthening of the brand. In general, we can say that such strong brands now achieve higher market shares than brands that do not communicate values. This is especially reflected in the behavior of Generation Z. Among these young people, many turn away from a brand if it does not represent their values and attitudes.

The advantage of Purpose Driven Marketing for organizations? This involves simply combining 'doing good' with 'making money'. This allows a brand to create new ways to be successful in the market. At first glance, that sounds like a calculating strategic move. But conversely it also has clear positive effects. Organizations are challenged to act increasingly in the interests of sustainability, fair production and social cooperation. If they don't, consumers will see through it and revenues will decline.

Development of the marketing field

Until the 1960s, marketing was primarily product and sales oriented and simply intended to convey the functional value of the product to the customer. At the beginning of the 1970s a leap was made towards consumer orientation. Marketers no longer wanted to just communicate functional value, but to appeal to customers on an emotional level. The focus was on the individual and on how the product could improve his life. In addition to product sales, the primary goal was long-term customer loyalty.

Purpose communication now pursues an even bigger and broader mission. The goal is to improve the world and challenge conventional, harmful mechanisms and ways of thinking by doing things differently. The majority of people strive for social change and expect the same attitude from the companies they buy from. The focus of marketing has therefore shifted again. A brand is now mainly judged on its own values and the vision that exists within the company.

Consumers demand transparency

Gone are the days when companies could hide their morally dubious activities from the public. Open communication and transparent production processes are the norm today. Consumers want to be assured that companies adhere to their ethical beliefs, resulting in a relationship of trust.

Purpose marketing not only means communicating certain values to the outside world, but also integrating them into every corner of the organization. This approach goes further than large-scale advertising campaigns with a socially critical message. Because the internal processes are also being tested.

The CSR report (CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility) already represented a major step forward in the field of transparency. The CSR reporting obligation was approved by the European Parliament in 2014. This law requires companies to provide information on social and environmental concerns and thus ensures more transparency. Especially for large companies that, for example, have their products produced cheaply in sweatshops abroad.

Positioning and purpose marketing

So much for the theory. But what does it look like in practice? If you want to use Purpose Driven Marketing for your own organization, you must communicate a clear attitude to the outside world that your target group can identify with. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What values does your organization stand for? What is the vision behind it?
  • What problems (social, economic, political, etc.) does your organization solve?
  • Where is the link to the product or service?
  • What beliefs does your organization share with your target group?

These questions will help you develop a strategy to clearly position your company. You will then know which values and visions you and your target group have in common and how you can best tailor your marketing to them.

Also read: social positioning

Tips for purpose marketing

The term 'authentic' now has a dubious image because it is used by everyone and for almost everything. In marketing in particular, the authenticity factor has long been relied on, although the result is often only constructed. It then only pursues a commercial goal and has little to do with reality.

In 'real' authenticity in targeted marketing, it is a fundamental requirement that decides between success and failure. If you communicate your company's values and are committed to good causes, you must also demonstrate this in action. If it's just words and a marketing trick, your target group will see through it over time. The new generations of consumers inform themselves much more intensively about the background of a company than before.

So if you really want to use Purpose Driven Marketing, your intentions have to be real. Half-hearted actions or the lack of actions that were previously announced seriously damage your image. Abuse of such methods is known as greenwashing and has already cost many companies and influencers their good reputation.

A forecast for the future

You should not assume that consumer demands will decrease in the future. Transparency and a value-oriented organizational policy are still increasing in importance. For the future, as an organization you must ask yourself how you take responsibility and communicate purposefully without focusing only on profit.

Marketing with a good mission

The trend towards making organizations more responsible for social and environmental issues is certainly a positive one. Customers also benefit from greater transparency and honesty.

For organizations, purpose marketing can contribute to a stronger connection with customers. And at the same time you do good for people and planet. So position yourself successfully with the values that mean something to you and your target group and rely on marketing with a good mission.

Also read all about it ethical marketing.

Need help with your purpose marketing?

Setting up an effective purpose marketing strategy does not happen overnight and can be a challenging task. Do you need help putting these tips into practice? Then take Contact contact us, we are happy to help you!


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