Understanding how to instil a sense of “brand belonging” through a clear and relevant purpose is quickly becoming a prerequisite for competitiveness, according to senior executives at Accenture.

Writing in the current issue of Admap,  Rachel Barton, Masataka Ishikawa, Kevin Quiring and Bill Theofilou, four leaders of Accenture’s Strategy Customer Insight & Growth practice around the world, explain that consumers are no longer just making decisions based on product or price: “They’re now assessing what a brand says. What it does. What it stands for.”

In their article, What does your brand stand for? Why purpose is key to competitive agility, they cite Accenture Strategy’s global study of nearly 30,000 consumers.

This found that 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices. “The closer a company’s purpose aligns to their own beliefs, the better.”

And companies that don’t step up pay the price: more than half (53%) of consumers who are disappointed with a brand’s words or actions on a social issue complain about it. Customers have always complained, but what’s different now, the authors note, is that 47% walk away in frustration, with 17% never coming back.

Consumers’ expectations that brands align with their personal values are clearly a challenge, but they are also an opening for companies to demonstrate their competitive agility, the authors argue.

“The opportunity lies in building more authentic and profitable relationships with customers. Meaningful relationships that shift the customer dialogue from ‘give ME what I want’ to ‘support the ideals WE believe in’. Long-lasting relationships grounded in a common purpose and built around a collective sense of brand belonging. Authentic relationships based on an affinity to brands that do more than just make money.”

They add that the form brand purpose takes – and whether it even affects competitiveness – depends on myriad factors, including geography, product category, brand maturity, target demographics and the readiness of the existing brand ecosystem.

Activating that purpose requires brands to be human, to be authentic and to be creative as consumers become “key brand ecosystem players”.  Successful purpose-led brands will put the traditional view of “customer as buyer” to bed forever, the authors suggest.

“They will, instead, focus on creating a community of loyal, engaged and valuable brand stakeholders – all working together to usher in the next era of engagement and competitiveness.”

This issue of Admap – Sustainability: Opportunities and challenges for brands – features a selection of articles by thought leaders from across the globe. WARC subscribers can access the deck, Sustainability: Opportunities and challenges for brands, which summarises the expert advice and key recommendations from all the authors.

Sourced from Admap