How Can Purpose Drive Profit?

August 8, 2018

One in four women in the U.S. struggled to purchase period products within the past year due to lack of income. This issue, unearthed by our U by Kotex partners, served as the catalyst for their founding sponsorship of the Alliance for Period Supplies (APS)—a network of banks that gets period products into the hands of those who need them most. While this was another step in U by Kotex’s mission to not let a period stand in the way of a women’s progress, it was the first time that the brand embarked on tying its purpose to retail activities. APS now comes to life during promotional windows at retail partners throughout the year when the purchase of any U by Kotex product sparks a donation to women in need.

It got me thinking. When it comes to a building a strong brand today, purpose is no longer a nice to have—it’s table stakes. Research supports the notion that today’s consumers support companies working to make our world a better place. In fact, eight in ten consumers say they are more loyal to purpose-driven companies and would tell others to buy products from those companies1. U by Kotex is seeing that first-hand with positive business results during their promotion periods.

Therefore, how do we, as PR practitioners prove this connection? Put quite simply, how can Purpose = Profit?

My counsel? Look to retail.

Many often overlook what our retail and shopper peers are doing. We tend to look at retail promotions as being solely about pricing, coupons and/or end cap displays, which is leaving a major communications channel out of the mix. However, the best way to drive business results for purpose-led campaigns is to align the goals of the retailer and the brand.

This is ripe territory. The right strategic comms/influencer strategies can communicate a brand’s bigger values and motivate consumers to take action in support of the brand when they are shopping. Purpose-driven retail programs allow a brand to reinforce what it stands for – while simultaneously converting consumers.

Consider these tips when assessing the potential for purpose-driven retail programs:

Evaluate the brand’s status on purpose:

  • Does the brand have an established purpose program or campaign?
  • How is their purpose currently being communicated?
  • Is it being supported at retail and if not, what would a potential purpose program at retail look like?
  • If the brand doesn’t have a current purpose identified, there are still a number of ways comms and influencer can amplify retail activities.

Collaborate with the retail/shopper team:

  • The retail and shopper teams are our friends—and we are theirs. When we combine our talents, we strengthen the work and deliver exponentially. Together we can determine where the richest territory is to layer in purpose to retail programs and can utilize each other’s expertise and data on how to communicate the messaging in various brand channels—across retail and earned communications. Plus, we can capitalize on each other’s assets to achieve a better ROI overall.

Develop an integrated communications plan:

  • Create a plan that is tailored to the retailer’s unique objectives and nuances.
  • Ensure there is a clear consumer action and result.
  • Localize the effort and the impact as much as possible.

Measure it:

  • Work with shopper teams and retailers to measure success and impact.
  • Evaluate the data and optimize approach and messaging for future programs.

Let’s brainstorm! Connect with me to discuss your brand opportunity and help determine the best way to approach a purpose-driven retail strategy.

Caroline Friedman is a Vice President in Ketchum’s Chicago office, sitting in the CPG sector and on the Purpose leadership team. In her 10+ years of experience she has worked across CPG and food accounts and is currently leading efforts to demonstrate how purpose-centric programming drives sales for a range of clients and industries.