Purpose-driven participation

Purpose-driven participation
Jan 22, 2020
Brands drive customer participation through advocacy and activism.

The rise of purpose-led brands shines a light on weak corporate responsibility statements, the abuse of benefit corporation status, and greenwashing. These days, consumers are emboldened by knowledge and social platforms—and they expect brands to deliver on their promises.

It’s not just a matter of providing safe-for-consumers, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced products and services. Nor is it about operating without compromising the health and well-being of employees, communities, and the environment.

Consumers want to be recognized for the stakeholders they are, and take part in the action, too.

Actively supporting initiatives synonymous with their voice gives brands an opportunity to leverage trust and shared values among consumers by empowering them to positively impact the greater good through advocacy and activism. Participation shows which customers care enough about the brand to not only repeatedly buy its products and services, but also to vocally advocate for it and take action beyond the sale.

Here are some brands that have inspired consumers to actively participate:

  • REI—Opt to Act
    This past Black Friday, REI upgraded its #OptOutside campaign to kick off a strengthened commitment to “fight for life outdoors every day.” The company announced plans to make changes at the business level to reduce waste across the industry and involve customers at the same time. Equipped with DIY cleanup kits, a cleanup guide, and a checklist for different things to do each week of a year, consumers will be able to opt out of shopping and opt into doing good for the environment, not just on Black Friday, but every day thereafter.
  • Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board—“Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild
    Due in part to social media overexposure, Wyoming’s pristine areas are becoming overrun and overwhelmed by an influx of visitors. Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board is raising awareness and asking visitors to skip the geotagging of sites they visit when sharing photos online, and to participate in raising awareness and protecting sites by using the tag “Tag Responsible, Keep Jackson Hole Wild” instead.
  • KLM—Fly Responsibly
    KLM is encouraging travelers to consider alternative modes of transportation for short distances over flying. In response to accusations of “greenwashing,” the brand demonstrated real seriousness in efforts to mitigate its climate change contributions by announcing plans to replace service for a popular short-haul flight with a high-speed train.
  • Soma—#BraItForward
    Since 2010, Soma has collected over 2 million new or gently-used bras from participating customers to give to women facing domestic violence or homelessness. Undergarments are some of the most in-need shelter items and go a long way toward building self-esteem. In exchange for this act of good, Soma rewards donors with cash-off their next purchase.
  • SoFi—#MoneyTalks
    Financial service firm SoFi is addressing debt stigma by encouraging consumers to share their own stories about how money has influenced their lives. The goal is to generate understanding and empathy among consumers about a personal yet sometimes shameful subject. Consumers can participate in conversations in a private, regulated Facebook group online.
Participation is also an indication of long-term loyalty. Consumers who are emotionally connected with a brand deliver 306% higher customer lifetime values. They’re also more likely to recommend the brand, which is a great thing considering a good online reputation and positive customer reviews are two of the top factors that increase trust among digital shoppers. Especially in today’s world—where global consumers expect brands to take a stand on social, cultural, environmental, and political issues they care about the most—it pays to enable good.
ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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Meet the author
  1. Lauren Sutherland, Strategist, Customer Loyalty
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