The mission-driven creative company’s annual report benchmarks 150 organizations by measuring and ranking each brand’s overall World Value, as perceived by consumers. The report’s findings are based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 3,000 people, across 19 audience demographics and psychographics. Of the survey questions, trust, personal values and cultural political influences were considered while polling people’s perceptions of all brands.
“In an era when measuring companies by shareholder value is not good enough — for employees, customers or communities — the World Value Index measures the value of brands to everyday people,” said Sebastian Buck, Co-Founder and Strategic Lead at enso. “Against a backdrop of low trust in business leaders, we’re seeing forward-looking, purpose-oriented brands rise to the top and some historic brands fall, particularly with younger people.”
For 2017, the list of top-10 organizations whose mission and purpose are perceived as creating the most world value comprises:
- Girl Scouts of the USA
- Save the Children
- World Wildlife Fund
This year’s Index revealed that age, gender, income, political leanings and global outlook appeared to highly influence brand mission perception and support. Twitter, Uber and Starbucks, for example, ranked high with millennials who are active on social media and like to take action on issues important to them. Starbucks was also the most politically polarizing brand. While the company ranked 75th with the general population, Republicans ranked the coffee company at 103 and Democrats at 18.
Nonprofits performed significantly better this year, with Goodwill and Girl Scouts of the USA, Save the Children, WWF and YMCA securing five of the top spots, beating out Amazon, Google and Microsoft. The World Value Index attributes this to widespread distrust of business despite a general belief in the ability of businesses to drive positive impacts. The results mirror the findings of a recent study by Cone Communications that examines consumer attitudes, perceptions and behaviors around corporate social responsibility.
Amazon’s position within the top three is particularly interesting, despite the inherent value of the service, considering the company has come under fire frequently for lack of transparency in terms of carbon emissions and renewables, as well as the use of polystyrene foam packaging.
Dove’s number nine spot is likely attributed to parent company Unilever’s work to align product and purpose and create brand and social value through sustainability. The brand’s “Real Beauty” and #MyBeautyMySay campaigns in particular have resonated with its consumer base, and Dove counts itself as a part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living portfolio, which delivered more than 60 percent of the company’s growth in 2016.
Interestingly, household names such as Kellogg’s, PayPal, Disney, Kraft and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) were bumped off the list. This is despite Disney’s ambitious sustainability strategy, which includes internal carbon pricing, renewable diesel-fueled vehicles, an emissions reduction target of 50 percent by 2020 from 2012 levels and a long-term goal of achieving zero net emissions. Johnson & Johnson has also been actively working to reduce its impacts, partnering with non-profit CDP to eliminate deforestation practices from its supply chain and has recently launched the Africa Innovation Challenge, which seeks to drive innovation and sustainable health solutions that will benefit African communities.
While good is being done, this shakeup suggests that brands may benefit from improved storytelling efforts surrounding social and environmental initiatives.
enso commissioned Quadrant Strategies, a research-driven consultancy, to field surveys with various demographic representative samples of the US populations 18 and up. It tested brands spanning a mix of industries and company sizes, ranging from startups to established companies.
The 19 audience segments surveyed included the general population, elites (people who are college educated and earn more than $100,000 per year), millennials and Gen Z, Gen X, Baby Boomers, social and purpose, tech-positive, tech-skeptic, parents, environmentally engaged, young and social, nonprofit engaged, Democratic, Republicans and Independents. Each brand was scored based on answers to four questions related to awareness of purpose, alignment with purpose, active support and impact on purchase. The index score for each brand was calculated based on awareness of purpose plus alignment with purpose plus impact on purchase multiplied by active support.
The 2017 report marks the second annual World Value Index, and demonstrates the influence of sociopolitical climate on people's perception and trust of large organizations.