August 13, 2021
Analysis revealed that while most business leaders care about sustainability and equality, an activist segment representing about a quarter of the business decision-maker universe are the ones taking action. “They are living and breathing their commitment in everything they do, and they’re holding others accountable,” said Lynn. “It’s significant and we expect it to grow.”
These purposeful leaders predicate business and personal success on making a difference — beyond maximizing profits. “They prefer to do business with purpose-driven companies, and they go out of their way to support eco-friendly businesses and products,” Lynn said. Looking at likelihood versus the total decision maker group, she added, shows that they believe that the actions they take in the DEI space are improving the bottom line. And they equate sustainability with good management when they’re seeking to do business with other companies.
“It’s part of their job expectation, and they also care about the impact on the world,” Lynn added. “In fact, 54% of them frequently think about the ESG for their own personal decisions vs 43% of the total group.”
Patterns in the data demonstrate that purpose-driven decision makers are influenced by actions brands take and information they communicate. This group is hungry for information, seeking out news and ideas in real time that helps them make positive impacts. “In fact, they are 15% more likely to be receptive to advertising as a way to learn about ESG,” Lynn said.
Compared to the total audience, purposeful leaders are more likely to say brands have purpose and vision if they view them as demonstrating ethics, transparency, support for diversity, social responsibility and sustainability. “Their perceptions hinge on these factors,” Lynn said. “They’re not the only visionary factors but they’re significant and we’ve seen that grow in the four years since we began the Bloomberg Brand Health System.”
The data suggests important areas for B2B brands to consider. First, said Kawalerski, brands should explore building strategies around a customer-partner-employee ecosystem, rather than a sequential customer journey. “Supporting brand values in concert across the spectrum can powerfully benefit all participants,” she said.
Second, especially among the purposeful leader cohort, CEOs need to stand out as purpose champions and advocate for issues in line with brand values. “That helps foster engagement that’s not just because of the functional benefits of the product but because of what investment in that product does,” Kawalerski said.
Finally, the benefits of communicating actions can outweigh the risks. “Since the expectation among leaders, consumers and shareholders is of a higher standard first, companies can get credit for trying something — even if they’re not all the way there,” Kawalerski explained. “If a brand can back it up, it shouldn’t hesitate to shout about it.”