Why Your Food Brand Should Lead with Purpose

By Cher Mereweather

Individuals are demanding more from companies they work for and buy from. More than three-quarters (78%) of consumers believe it is no longer acceptable for companies to just make money, they expect companies to positively impact society as well. 1

Purpose, value- based narratives allow brands to build strong emotional connections with their target audience. This emotional connection creates product differentiation that goes beyond quality and cost marketing – it builds brand loyalty.

Purpose-led brands are growing 3x faster than the competition. 2

They attract and retain better talent and employees are more engaged knowing their work is connected to a greater-purpose.

Customers of purpose-led brands are more loyal, satisfied and engaged. They are more willing to share content from purpose-driven companies with their social networks, helping tell the brand story and recommend the product.

In fact, companies that operate with a clear and driving sense of purpose outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of 10 between 1996 and 2011.3

Why food companies can uniquely benefit from purpose

When consumers were asked which industries they felt it was most important to have a sense of purpose, food and beverage ranked second (only after health & wellness).4

Consumers are demanding more from the food industry than ever before - greater supply-chain transparency, detailed ingredient labeling, organic and non-GMO options and a commitment to product quality following a number of highly publicized food recalls.

Many of the values associated with purpose are already present in the corporate culture of food brands. Transparency, trust, quality, and community- but there are important differentiators to having core values or a mission statement and having a purpose:

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However, food businesses must be careful they don’t just create a purpose "tagline" – a purpose without structure, culture, leadership and authenticity to support it. By doing so you risk significant brand damage by looking inauthentic or making business decisions that conflict with your purpose.

To truly be a purpose-led brand three key conditions must be met:

  1. The purpose must be deeply ingrained into the structure and culture of the business;
  2. The senior leadership team must actively demonstrate their support for the purpose;
  3. The business must communicate the purpose clearly and authentically to its stakeholders.

Being a purpose-led brand takes an authentic commitment and genuine determination from senior leadership teams, but in doing so, food companies can gain a competitive advantage on retail shelves, increase their employee retention and productivity, drive innovation, reduce their operating cost, and positively impact the environment- a win-win for Canadian food brands!

Tags: Leadership, Strategy, Purpose, Branding

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