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Why purpose should be a top strategic priority

Today, purpose-driven brands outperform those that are not. People want to feel that a brand has invested in them, its employees, the community in which it operates, or the environment.

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According to the findings of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, 68% of consumers believe they have the power to force corporations to change, and 86% of individuals expect CEOs to speak out on societal issues.

“To truly get the best ROI on your spend and ensure your brand’s longevity, you need to be spending your money on getting people interested in what you’re doing – and not just aware of it. And that takes far more than simply blowing the budget on ad spend or a mega-influencer,” says Glenn Gillis, CEO, Sea Monster.

There is a massive need to glue together different data sources that can then inform the creative work, content and other marketing initiatives to drive transactions and relationships – and brands should be investing in both.

Gillis continues that while most brands already know what drives a transaction, very few truly understand what drives a relationship.

“We need to remember that acquisition is not the last step in the funnel – advocacy is, and we aren’t going to get there without investing time and energy on the consideration phase,” adds Gillis.

Here, industry experts reveal how they value purpose as a business strategy.

Purpose and impact

“It’s important that our business aligns with our purpose and values,” says Aisha Pandor, SweepSouth CEO.

“I come from a background with parents who were teachers and also anti-apartheid activists and so their work had a lot of meaning for them. This has resulted in me wanting to ensure that anything I dedicate time to, has a lot of meaning and a large impact.

“For SweepSouth, we have a great tech platform that’s connecting two sides of a marketplace, but more than that, there are themes around impact, unemployment and underemployment, and addressing that within the domestic worker community specifically, that are so important to me, Alen, and the broader SweepSouth team.

“We also conduct an annual report on the pay and working conditions for domestic workers in South Africa and Kenya. This report highlights the everyday reality of domestic workers, and helps us and other stakeholders fight for better pay and working conditions for one of society’s most vulnerable groups.

“While the bottom line is, of course, important to all businesses, I strongly believe that purpose and impact are equally important. Business owners should be able to look at themselves in the mirror at the end of the day and go, ‘I’m doing OK, I feel good about the impact I’m achieving and the work that I’m doing’,” Pandor concludes.

A sustainable purpose

“Sustainability is a growing focus in the tourism industry, ” says Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications at online booking platform, Jurni.

“Within itself, sustainability is a noble purpose for any business to adopt, but it also ties with the increasing importance consumers are placing on sustainability being a valid part of a travel business’s attraction.

“Post pandemic, businesses with the tourism sector have the chance to grow back better in a way that’s more sustainable, inclusive and caring – both for the environment and for people.

“Tourism isn’t just a vital source of foreign currency for South Africa, it also supports a local supply chain, creates jobs (prior to the pandemic, 1.5 million jobs were held in the sector) and drives development outcomes that support communities,” he adds.

A community purpose

Although Zoho is a company that loves to build beautiful software, its people and its culture are its most important asset. The brand goal of Zoho is to give back to the community and the world around them, whether it is offering work opportunities to individuals who have limited access or providing products that help firms grow.

From its inception 26 years ago, Zoho’s strategy has been to support its employees and companies.

“Zoho was founded on ideals and beliefs. We don’t assess our success in terms of statistics, but rather the effect we’ve had on our workers, their families, customers, industry, ecosystem, and local communities,” says Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Zoho Africa.

This means also considering the long-term impact of Zoho’s involvement with rural communities, as well as encouraging other companies to follow suit.

“Technology plays a key role in reducing inequality and narrowing the urban-rural divide. With access to software that enables people to set up businesses and work for global corporations from the comfort of their homes or satellite offices, companies like Zoho can help create sustainable economic opportunities and generate much-needed income that would otherwise be redirected to larger towns or cities.”

Impact on the ecosystem

“Businesses today cannot operate without attempting to understand the impact that they have an impact on the environment and the ecosystem,” says Anton Gillis, Kruger Gate Hotel CEO.

“No industry is excused in this regard. And, for the hospitality industry, this is becoming increasingly important. What does this mean for hotels such as Kruger Gate Hotel and others located in national parks and nature reserves? For one, it means giving more than we take.

“Often what people may see is hotels using their surrounding areas – their location – as a marketing tool to sell more rooms and entice potential visitors to book. But what we at Kruger Gate Hotel are trying to do is to use the land around us and the natural environment to find potential solutions to environmental issues that we may face.

“Secondly, it means we need to adopt measures that not only improve guest experience but also mitigate waste across the supply chain and procurement, and this includes reducing wasteful expenditure.”

Purpose pays

Many companies today are finding that doing good, and doing well aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, the saying that purpose pays is holding ever more true, as businesses discover that having an established sense of purpose – not only measured by bottom line results, but also social and environmental impact – is helping them become the successes of tomorrow.

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