Do brands need a higher purpose to survive today’s virtue market?

Proof is in the purpose pushers

We see this playing out with the normalisation of the triple bottom line framework that pushes for outcomes that benefit the company, its consumers and now society. It’s a notion that didn’t exist even 20 years ago. Yet today we’re encouraged to see Procter & Gamble as “a force for good and a force for growth”, Patagonia being “in business to save our home planet” and Sumo Salad as on a mission to “make Australia a healthier and happier place”.

It’s all in the mind

So why the contradictions? Research from the field of behavioural science has consistently demonstrated that what people say they want and how they actually behave often have little in common.

Perfecting status signalling

The brilliance shared between the three aforementioned successful, purpose-led brands is not purely their commitment to a higher-order social purpose; it’s the very immediate, short-term benefit that they provide in the form of status signalling. All three brands give consumers an opportunity to subtly, or not so subtly, show other people that they are supporting a cause (via a brand and its purpose) that is considered worthwhile.



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We’re an independent creative agency helping brands capitalise on the why, when, where, what and how of human behaviour.