Purpose is key to resilience and relevance in tough times.

Purpose UP | Cover - Rectangle

Barkley releases its third annual purpose report

Now is not the time to shrink back on sustainability and ESG criteria, it is time to double down with focus and clarity. These are the findings from our third annual report Purpose Up | Doubling Down in Tough Times, a joint research study with Jefferies.

In fact, 96% of consumers say buying from purpose-led brands is as important today as 12 months ago despite rising inflation rates and likely recession. Additionally, consumer conviction for buying from brands that care about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues remains strong with 50% of consumers willing to pay more for these products. There is also an increased concern for issues like climate change, where a third of Americans report they have already been personally affected, and two thirds expect to be impacted in the near future. 

Whole brands — those brands full of purpose and action that match what it says and does internally with what it says and does externally — understand that purpose, sustainability and ESG initiatives are vital, strategic imperatives. In fact, Barkley research has found a positive correlation between market performance and brands that lead with purpose — 41% of market performance for brands in their study can be explained by what they call, Purpose Power. 

“Consumers and other stakeholders have never been more concerned about the state of the world. In lieu of government action, they want their favorite brands to step in to help them live more sustainably and affordably,” said Lindsey DeWitte, Barkley EVP of Purpose + Sustainability. “Despite economic uncertainties, this is not a time to back off purpose-led strategies, it’s time to double down.”

Purpose Up | Doubling Down in Tough Times includes consumer insights, business leader interviews and expert contributions, all concluding that while business leaders are faced with unprecedented pressures in today’s often hostile market, purpose-driven leadership could provide an advantage in these difficult times. 

Insights include: 

  • 64% of consumers say buying from companies that take action on environmental and social issues is how they show support for an issue they care about. As a result, what we buy — and what brands we recommend to family and friends — is becoming a core part of Americans’ self-identity. 

  • 72% of consumers say working for a company that aligns with their values is important, a powerful advantage as companies compete in the era of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting.

  • 94% of business leaders believe their brand will be impacted by climate change — and 59% say it already has or will in the next five years. Proof of actions to combat this are mutually beneficial for businesses, investors, consumers and employees.

We also interviewed global brand marketers and industry experts for the report including: Dr. Wayne Visser, professor and author of Thriving: The Breakthrough Movement to Regenerate Nature, Society and the Economy; Dr. Victoria Hurth, fellow, University of Cambridge; Penny Andino, vice president of marketing, Justin’s; Benjamin Crook, vice president/general manager, Dressings & Condiments at Unilever; Kathleen McLouglin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart; Randall Hopkins, global head of ESG SaaS Solutions, Nasdaq Corporate Platforms; Aidaly Sosa, head of marketing, US, Tony Chocolonely’s; and Danielle Jezienicki, senior director of sustainability, Grove Collaborative.

Download The Purpose Up Report.

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