Most Americans Report Being More Likely to Trust A Purpose-Led Company

June 14, 2019

Three-quarters (76%) of US adults (ages 18 and older) expect businesses to positively impact society instead of just make money. In a new study [download page] of more than 1,100 American adults, Porter Novelli / Cone found that 79% of Americans feel they have a deeper personal connection with companies that share similar values to their own and 72% believe that purpose-driven companies care more about them and their families.

A company with purpose is defined by Porter Novelli / Cone as “an organization’s authentic role and value in society, which allows it to simultaneously grow its business and positively impact the world.”

The effects of being considered a purpose-driven company are quite positive. Nine in 10 (89%) respondents agreed that they had a more positive image of a company that was purpose-led, while 86% said they were more likely to trust such a company. Being purpose-driven also inspires loyalty (83%) and advocacy, with three-quarters (74%) saying they tell others to buy products from the company and 62% reporting that they share information about such companies on their social networks.

While 86% of respondents said they would purchase from a purpose-driven company, some consumers would go beyond that. Seven in 10 reported that they would want to work for a purpose-driven company and about two-thirds (64%) said they would invest in one. Furthermore, a similar study last year found that some 73% of respondents were likely to defend a purpose-driven company if someone spoke badly about it.

Although many would put the onus of leading the charge of being a purpose-driven company on the CEO, a report from a few years ago actually puts it in the hands of the CMO. The survey, by Edelman, found that marketing executives believe that one of the key priorities of the CMO is purpose. It also found that CMOs should at least influence factors such as directing core business strategies as they relate to purpose, advise on choices that include diversity and sourcing, and evaluate new and existing products to see if they fit with the brand’s purpose.

Purpose Beats Functional in Ad Messaging?

Porter Novelli/Cone also found, through biometric research, that in almost every instance, respondents had a more positive response to purpose-driven advertising than to function-driven advertising. Across the sectors of automotive, household cleaning and technology, purpose-driven advertisements made the majority of respondents feel better about the brand, feel a stronger emotional connection to the company and believe the advertisement was more unique. This purpose-orientation aligns with data by Ace Metrix on ads shown during the Super Bowl – those that played on sentimentality and emotion garnered higher likeability scores.

For this Porter Novelli / Cone study, an exception comes when it comes to inspiring trust with automotive advertisements. Slightly more respondents felt trust while viewing the function-driven (52%) advertisement than when viewing the purpose-driven advertisement (48%).

To read more, download the study here.

About the Data: The study was based on a survey of 1,193 US adults (ages 18 and older) as well as findings from biometric research conducted by HCD Research among a random sample of 21 US adults ages 23-38. Participants were connected to biometric sensors (facial EMG [electromyography], heart rate and GSR [galvanic skin response] sensors) synced with eye-tracking software to help gain an aggregate understanding into consumers’ subconscious reactions to testing stimuli. Participants were also asked to fill out a brief survey about the testing stimuli to help gain an insight into their conscious reactions.

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