Every business leader wants consumers to think of their company as an essential ingredient in building a better life, yet the very definition of what constitutes the ‘Good Life’ changes over time.
While dynamic consumer desires shape the products and services that support an “optimal lifestyle,” there’s no crystal ball that brands can rely on to gain clarity on what consumers want today or what they will want in the future; that uncertainty increases risk. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, the average lifespan of a company in 2017 is only 12 years, compared to a whopping 60-year lifespan in the 1960s*. In other words, corporate disruption is peaking.
To help companies understand what consumers want in 2017, Sustainable Brands and the Harris Poll conducted a collaborative study of over 1,000 American adults to redefine the Good Life.
The Enabling The Good Life report found that 71 percent of people believe their parents’ definition of the Good Life is different from their own, and 45 percent think their children define it differently as well.
How Customer Obsession Is Defining a Sustainable Future for Retail
Hear more about how Amazon is boosting sales of more sustainable products through its Climate Pledge Friendly program — Wednesday, Oct 20 at SB'21 San Diego.
However, although many agree the Good Life is changing, respondents of various ages and political beliefs gave similar weight to their individual value of four categories of the Good Life: 1) Balanced Simplicity, 2) Meaningful Connections, 3) Financial Independence, and 4) Personal Goals.
From a branding perspective, companies that connect people with the products and services that they need to live their ideal lifestyle will carve out a competitive advantage. In fact, 80 percent of people surveyed said they would be loyal to a brand that helps them live the Good Life. While it sounds like a no-brainer, the majority of companies today fail to convey how they contribute to a better quality of life for their consumers, with 65 percent of respondents agreeing that products and services do not currently help them live the Good Life.
So, what’s the trick? How can you provide people with the things they need to live the life they want and, in turn, distinguish yourself as a leading purpose-driven business?
Here are a few ways your brand can help deliver the Good Life:
1. Help consumers live simple, meaningful lives
The collective vision of success is no longer solely based upon financial standing. Consumers want to feel at peace with themselves and the world around them, regardless of external ups and downs. This internal resiliency and ease of living is highly desired; products and services that make things simpler have a competitive edge over their more complex counterparts.
A Software as a Service (SaaS) company that’s doing an excellent job of incorporating balanced simplicity into its service offerings is MeetMindful. Unlike other online dating platforms that have been accused of perpetuating shallow hookup culture, MeetMindful helps singles looking to streamline the process of finding a like-minded, conscious partner, favoring meaningful connections over strictly physical attraction.
The key takeaway here is that companies providing products and services that combine mindfulness and simplicity will carve out a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
2. Facilitate and strengthen relationships between people and causes
Meaningful connections go beyond a pleasant customer-employee interaction. Consumers want not only to connect with other people, but also to unite with others around causes they care about, and to be a part of something that matters. Meaningful relationships can take many forms, from helping consumers volunteer with a nonprofit, to facilitating cultural conversations, to sharing a heartwarming story about social good.
An excellent example of a brand helping others make meaningful connections is Instagram. While the social media network has been criticized for perpetuating inauthenticity, self-comparison, and vanity, it also facilitates genuine discussions and connections between people who otherwise wouldn’t meet. The social media brand’s #HereForYou mental illness awareness and support campaign is an amazing showcase of how the platform created a space for people to share their insights and struggles, while simultaneously building a support community.
Ultimately, brands that help consumers strengthen their networks and ties with others, as well as larger cultural movements, will gain a reputation for contributing to the Good Life.
3. Foster dynamic & seamless internal and external user experiences
Financial independence is still a pillar of the good life; yet, money for money’s sake is not the end-all-be-all. In other words, consumers want enough money to support a meaningful and simple life but don’t prioritize extravagant luxury. Here are some insights from the survey group to back it up: “78 percent believe money can’t buy happiness; 52 percent don’t believe ‘buying whatever I want’ means living a Good Life; only 33 percent [say] having a lot of money means living the good life; only 26 percent [say] being able to afford luxury goods means living the Good Life.”
A company truly defining financial independence is Amazon. The e-commerce goliath revolutionized consumer experience and online shopping, granting access to the products they want at a click of a button and, with Prime, they know their purchase will be delivered free-of-charge to their door within two or three days. What’s more, half of the products sold on Amazon are bought from third-party sellers; Amazon effectively capitalizes on third-party sellers by offering fulfillment services, taking 15 percent of every transaction and selling their own version of adwords.
Essentially, empowering consumers, employees, and partners to make and spend money however they want and whenever they want is a powerful way to increase goodwill, loyalty and purchases.
4. Support consumers and employees in achieving their goals
Brands that empower employees and consumers to achieve their personal goals will be rewarded with stakeholder advocacy and word-of-mouth advertising. Additionally, positioning your product or service as a catalyst, empowering individuals to live better, is an excellent way to create content for amazing brand storytelling.
A company helping individuals achieve their personal goals is Unilever, which offers the Unilever Future Leaders Programme, giving engineering students and recent graduates interested in the consumer goods sector an inside look into the business. By giving rising talent valuable lessons and an opportunity to have transformational experiences, Unilever not only provides employees with an opportunity to better their careers, but also strengthens the corporate workforce, and helps them attract and retain top talent.
Essentially, helping your employees and consumers fulfill their dreams through your brand or by using your products and services is an excellent way to distinguish yourself as a leader in delivering the Good Life.
The key takeaway is that offering products and services that help people live more simple, meaningful, independent and empowered lives is vital to branding your company as a crucial contributor of the Good Life. What’s more, today’s most successful and innovative companies are defining new ways to live better, rather than following trends. Therefore, it’s critical for your brand to understand what your audience wants, provide offerings that help consumers embody their values and tell compelling stories that illustrate how your brand is enabling the Good Life.
This post first appeared on the We First blog on June 27, 2017.
Simon Mainwaring is CEO at We First, the leading consultancy that builds purpose-driven brands. We First provides strategy, training and content that helps organizations define, integrate and share their purpose to accelerate growth and impact.