SYDNEY: Marketers around the world overwhelmingly believe purpose needs to be part of a successful brand building strategy, with Procter & Gamble and Unilever the best examples of this, a new survey has revealed.

The World Federation of Advertiser's Global Brand Purpose Survey 2014 was based on replies from 828 brand marketers in 33 countries who together account for around $170 billion in global marketing spend.

It found that 88% of respondents agreed that purpose was becoming an increasingly important aspect of brand building and 87% agreed that it was important for brands to have a sense of purpose.

And while 71% said their brands had a sense of purpose only 63% said they had worked for brands that had been successful in communicating this.

Measuring purpose could also be problematic. Most were confident they could assess the impact of purpose on positive PR and reputation (94%), consumer engagement (91%) and employee satisfaction (89%).

But on other metrics they were less certain, as the figures slipped to 78% for consumer satisfaction and 51% for sales.

When asked to pick a purpose leader, marketers globally opted for Procter & Gamble and its competitor Unilever, both of which garnered 14% of the vote, ahead of Google (11%) and Apple (10%) in second and third place respectively.

There were significant regional differences, however, with Apple seen as a purpose leader in North America, Coca-Cola in Latin America, Unilever in Europe, Danone in Africa and the Middle East and Nestlé in Asia-Pacific.

As to the sources of purpose, the chief executive officer was widely regarded as the person to lead, although there was widespread agreement that a brand's purpose should pervade the entire organisation and have buy-in from all business functions. External stakeholders, including customers, the supply chain, NGOs and governments, were also cited as potential contributors.

The WFA further suggested that marketers were becoming more internal, local and CRM-focused in their articulation of purpose. It noted that in 2014, 55% of marketers defined purpose as creating programmes that had a positive impact on communities, while the proportion who saw it as addressing global or environmental issues had fallen to 35% and 39% respectively from 52% and 56% in 2013.

Consumers tend to have a much less elevated idea of purpose: research from Edelman found that they were most likely to define it in terms of listening to customer needs and responding to feedback.

Data sourced from WFA; additional content by Warc staff