At the core of the most successful and attractive companies is a singular, authentic purpose that defines how it creates value.
Purpose directs business decisions that determine the way value is created and guides how the company engages its stakeholders. It also enables organisations to unify their staff and focus on a common goal.
When a company finds its purpose and embraces its authentic nature it can enhance its reputation, build trust and create value, not only for the business but also for society.
While we believe that owning an authentic purpose is important and advantageous, we recognise that arriving at it is not a simple task, especially in a way that effectively engages its employees and external stakeholders, including its consumers. Studies point to the fact that companies with a discernable purpose are simply more financially successful, and while financial success is motivating to employees, working towards a purpose mobilises employees in a way that profit cannot.
To be successful, we believe that a company’s purpose needs to be:
Stakeholders, both internal and external, should not have to infer the purpose from a company’s mission or vision statements. The stated purpose should be clear and unambiguous.
The purpose must grow from the heart of the business, from its foundations, its history and its values.
The purpose must clearly demonstrate the belief that in seeking to create value for society, the company is creating value for itself. This means it should simultaneously speak to shareholders and civil society.
The purpose should communicate how the company’s products, services and operations benefit society. While corporate responsibly efforts can both draw from and support the purpose, demonstrating how the company’s core business creates value for society is a very different proposition than simply operating responsibly. This is why GlobeScan is helping companies at different stages of their purpose journey.
One of the initial ways we are able to help our clients is by providing the context for how purpose exists in the minds of consumers, utilising Radar, our global consumer research program.
In 2015 - as part of a joint research project with Sustainable Brands - we asked consumers in 21 countries about their expectation for companies to articulate how their products/services make the world better, e.g., to demonstrate purpose beyond profit. The results showed that 6 out of 10 people (62 percent) across all 21 countries said they believe it is the responsibility of companies to act with this broader purpose – making the world better through their products and services.
In 2016, we ventured further into investigating consumers’ perceptions for purpose by asking consumers in 23 countries a number of questions to understand the following:
- Whether consumers believe there are any companies making a positive difference in society through their products, services and operations.
- How widespread do consumers believe companies are demonstrating they have a purpose that enables them to make a positive difference on society and also be financially successful?
- Which companies are being recognised by consumers as having a strong purpose.
- Whether consumers support companies they recognise as having a strong purpose.
- Whether employees of large companies believe their own company has a strong purpose.
- Whether mainstream shareholders believe that companies with a strong purpose are more successful than those without a strong purpose.
GlobeScan has all of the insights from these findings at both a global level and also at a country level, and these results offer a unique perspective on what they mean for business going forward.