‘Purpose’ crucial to how consumers view companies

A majority of Canadians support firms that share their values, but are behind the global average, an Accenture study finds.

Being purpose-led remains as important as ever for brands, with a new study by Accenture finding that 55% of Canadians prefer to purchase products and services from companies with a purpose that reflects their personal values. At the same, consumers are “ditching” companies that do not share their vision, according to the business consultancy.

Those findings are laid out in Accenture’s annual Global Consumer Pulse Research report, “From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand.” The report includes responses from close to 30,000 consumers across 35 markets globally, including roughly 1,500 Canadians. From a global perspective, the report indicates companies that successfully communicate their brand purpose are more likely to attract consumers and influence their purchase decisions.

According to the findings, 52% of Canadian consumers express a desire to see companies take a stand on social, cultural, environmental and political issues, and 55% percent indicate that the actions and words of a company’s leaders influences their purchase decisions.

While high, those numbers are lower than the global averages of 62% and 65%, respectively.

Canadians shared that some of the purpose-led initiatives they care most about include using good quality ingredients (83%), treating employees well (66%) and reducing plastics and improving the environment (58%). What’s more, 68% of Canadians – 74% of people globally – desired greater transparency from companies in terms of how they source and test their products and how they ensure safe working conditions for their employees.

“Purpose is more than companies simply responding to issues of the day. It’s about having a genuine and meaningful commitment to important principles that consumers care about – such as health and well being, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and fair treatment of employees – which inform every business decision,” said Kelly Askew, managing director of competitiveness, retail, consumer and travel at Accenture Strategy, in a release accompanying the report. “Many companies have neglected to convey purpose due to complacency or the fear of polarizing people, which has allowed smaller players to rise.”

Importantly, consumers believe their support for purpose-led businesses is having a tangible impact on how companies behave. For example, over 61% said they believe that actions, such as boycotting a company or speaking out on social media, influence companies’ actions. Twenty-seven percent indicated having been “disappointed” by an organization’s actions and 37% stopped doing business with the company as a result, according to Accenture.

Again here, Canadian numbers were lower than the global averages. Worldwide, 66% believe their actions have an impact, while 46% have stopped doing a business that does not appear aligned with their values.