Business professionals in China are keenly aware of the growing importance of brand purpose to consumers, but new research suggests a majority don’t clearly understand the concept.

Research by WE Red Bridge involved in-depth interviews with academics and management executives as well as a quantitative survey with 161 anonymous management and C-suite leaders across industries, functions and geographies.

This sat alongside its earlier global Brands in Motion study which found that 83% of Chinese consumers expected brands to take a stand on important issues (that was nine points higher than the global average).

Almost half (49%) of Chinese consumers also thought brands should focus on making local communities better (again, nine points higher than the global average), while four in ten felt they should focus on both local communities and global issues (fourteen points lower than the global average).

The new study reported that 72% of business professionals agreed that current political and social trends are pushing brands and organisations to define their ‘purpose’, with 89% saying it’s an urgent task to have a clearly defined purpose.

And while 100% of business professionals said it’s important for a company to own a purpose, almost two thirds (62%) didn’t clearly understand what purpose is.

Only 16% of Chinese business professionals strongly agreed that they are equipped to help the company exercise purpose. (For more, read the report in full on WARC: Purpose in China: The future role of brands.)

“Leading with Purpose does not happen overnight,” the study notes, “but with thoughtful listening, commitment and relevance to China, a brand may find its nascent Purpose strategy already tucked into a line of business.”

For a brand to successfully lead with purpose in China, it suggests, that purpose must be “authentic, achievable and locally focused to be credible”.

And it advises brands to consider the 4Bs: “be relevant, be the solution, be flexible and be focused.”

Sourced from WE Red Bridge