Consumers have always considered factors such as price and quality when making their purchasing decision, but in today’s hyperconnected world, modern consumers, especially millennials and Gen Y’s, also factor in what kind of a difference a company is making in their community and what the purpose of a brand is.
As consumers grow more conscious about companies, their services and products, as well as the impact these have on the environment and society, it’s no longer enough for a brand to claim to do good through a charitable corporate social investment initiative, that mostly sits as an after-thought to the rest of the business, which is motivated by profit. Consumers want brands to define their contribution to social good in their purpose and they want to be able to hold brands accountable down to the very Rand on how that contribution is being invested in.
In fact, a consumer survey by Futerra in the US and UK found that a whopping 88% of consumers surveyed want brands to be purposeful and to be making a positive difference to the world in some way. Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AMAZI, Divya Vasant, explains those factors through the lens of AMAZI which will act as an example of a true impact brand in South Africa.
#1 For the WHY: the power of brand purpose to engender trust amongst consumers
Simon Sinek first shed light on the power of why back in 2009 through his popular TED Talk based on Start With Why, in which he highlights the incredible appeal that a brand’s purpose has within an increasingly values-driven society, for both motivating employees and resonating with consumers. Why a brand does what it does is as important (and especially for the youth segments even more important) than what it does (offerings – products and services). This is because the impact it has on the world and its ability to tap into innovation in order to help solve problems within communities results in a great deal of trust being established with consumers, who share those values and resonate with that mission.
For instance, at AMAZI, we believe that women-owned businesses have a pivotal role to play in helping to address unemployment and driving positive economic growth. To help address this and ensure that more women are put into positions to help provide more economic opportunities for their peers, AMAZI launched an incubation programme through which the business creates earning opportunities for many women and helps incubate entrepreneurial talent among females of colour within the wellness industry.
#2 Agent of social change: The belief in the power of a brand to make a positive difference
Consumers are beginning to awaken to their power to affect positive change through directing their spending more intentionally into companies and brands that are actively working to bring about positive change. Consumers also resonate with brands who challenge conventions, especially unfair systems that favour only a particular segment of society, as well as brands who introduce innovation that allow for an impactful reconsideration of how things are and how things can be changed for the better. For instance, female-led companies have more limited access to finance and access to market. Women entrepreneurs often cannot obtain access to the physical spaces they require to provide services and sell their innovative products. This is due to the fact that the gate keepers for these commercial spaces usually require a myriad of things including a history of trading, an immaculate credit record and connections with building owners and property management companies. Through its incubation programme, AMAZI provides female entrepreneurs within the wellness and health space with access to commercial space at highly affordable rates, in order to help establish their brands and their business, and provide them with a history of trading. This model of support can be emulated within other industries as well to help overcome this hurdle.
#3 It has never been more important for your digital voice to have a purpose
Connecting and building a relationship with consumers digitally is fast becoming increasingly important. However, digital platforms are bombarded with volumes of information that make having a voice and a reason for a consumer to engage that much more challenging. Authentic content produced by brands rooted in a purpose are able to better connect with consumers and more effectively engage them in a way that facilitates that building of a community.
For example, while there might be a cornucopia of business and entrepreneurial knowledge accessible online, not a lot of this has been created from women’s perspective. Instead, the content has been created from man’s experience about how he is navigating a man’s world in sustaining and growing his business. To help equip female entrepreneurs for the challenges they will face and empower them with the knowledge they need to address those challenges, and stay true to its purpose to see women economically included, AMAZI launched a suite of online courses that are accessible, interactive, easy to engage with and importantly affordable. These covering topics like self-development and entrepreneurial development. The content is written by women who are navigating entrepreneurial journeys for women who want to access and apply that collective learning for their own growth.
Ultimately, impact brands are able to differentiate themselves from a sea of competitors, by standing for a cause (their Why) and authentically and innovatively offering solutions to further that cause and solve some of society’s most challenging problems. These brands emerge as the leading brands within their industries who generate positive and lasting impact far beyond their own bottom line or even sector in which they operate, but in society as a whole.