Opinion: Purpose in a connected world

Sam Hegg
By Sam Hegg | 10 June 2014
Sam Hegg, Head of Strategy at Carat Melbourne.

"Consumers want brands to make a difference to their everyday lives", was the message from Stephan Loerke, managing director of the WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) at the Global Marketer Conference in Sydney earlier this year.

This means that brands need to define their purpose in the world, ideally being born from what consumers need and what is special about their brand. This isn't a new concept. For decades, Nike has been ‘inspiring the athlete in all of us’ or Google has been striving to ‘organise the world’s information’. A defined 'purpose' should be a north star for a brand, ideally informing not just communications but internal culture, product development and CSR initiatives.

One disconnect in the identification and application of brand purpose identified by the WFA was that brands tend to look for a lofty, big picture purpose when consumers are looking for brands to make a difference in the everyday.

We all live in a connected, convergent world where utility from brands is more possible than ever and never has the need been greater. We are busier and more stressed than ever, which has created a constant striving to find efficiencies, or 'life hacks'.

'Purpose' at its core is a desired behaviour and never has the media landscape made it more possible for brands to realise it for consumers in the everyday. I am writing this on a train where the internet signal drops out a little too often, if a brand came along and installed WIFI on this train, I think I would love them forever!

One route to bringing this to life is by looking at how digital platforms allow us to connect with content or each other. Facebook saw the value in the messaging service WhatsApp when they bought it for US$19 billion but 50 billion messages a day by 400 million global users is pretty compelling.

It was also seen as an opportunity recently for FMCG brand Hellmans (mayonnaise). Really? Yes really! Knowing that foodies at home still need some coaching when creating in the kitchen, Hellmans thought they could go one better than a cookbook or website. They created the ability for consumers to interact in real time with a chef through WhatsApp video messaging, (as long as mayo was an ingredient!!) Take a look at the campaign here.

Another brand demonstrating value for consumers is beauty retailer Sephora, who have developed an augmented reality mirror so consumers can try make-up on without the hassle of removing a look they don't like. A great example of delivering to an unmet need. See the details here.

Both these cases bring to life the idea of being purpose-driven and it may be no coincidence that Hellmans is a Unilever brand and as a business globally, Unilever has stated the importance or purpose driven marketing globally this year. Building on this, technology firms like Apple are opening the doors to more opportunities for brands, be it the development of iBeacons, or the inbuilt smart home and health monitoring systems in the iOS8 update announced this week.

Our landscape is connected more than we ever thought possible. Brands: define your purpose… then action off it!

Sam Hegg
Head of Strategy
Carat Melbourne

comments powered by Disqus