Rahul Sachitanand
Feb 23, 2021

Interest in brand purpose heightened during pandemic and social unrest

SPIKES ASIA X CAMPAIGN: As consumers seek stability in their lives, they are gravitating toward brands and companies that can provide not just instant gratification with their products and services, but also longer-term value in their lives.

Clockwise from top left: Simon Hearn, APAC group director, Distillery; Claire Tan; Lizi Hamer; Jessica Lee
Clockwise from top left: Simon Hearn, APAC group director, Distillery; Claire Tan; Lizi Hamer; Jessica Lee

While brand purpose has been a popular topic among marketers for the last few years, the double blow inflicted by a global pandemic and concurrent social unrest from issues such as Black Lives Matter has only heightened the industry's interest in this space, according to speakers at a session on engaging the consumers of tomorrow during Spikes Asia X Campaign. As consumers seek stability in their lives during this time, they are seeking out brands and companies that can provide not just instant gratification with their products and services, but also longer-term value in their lives. 

Given the events of the last 12 months, having a clear brand purpose has never been more crucial in building a meaningful connection with new and existing customers. As brands and marketers plot their strategies for an uncertain 2021, their plans are likely need to be significantly different from the last few years.

"I find that in this current climate, with the with a pandemic as a backdrop...brands need to be even more authentic and real in being who they are," said Claire Tan, a communications consultant. "So brands need to be real. I think increasingly, they are looking at what is the company doing for the community (and) are not so self-driven." 


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As brands rush to refine their brand purpose in this challenging time, Lizi Hamer, co-founder, Sisugirls & SheSays and Singapore lead, regional creative director, Octagon, contended that brands need to laser focus on the purpose that fits their business rather than having "loads of grand purposes". And you want to know how that purpose relates to every part of your business, she added. Rather than list a sombre purpose statement, marketers can instead take a more optimistic stance with their plans. As events such as Black Lives Matter rolled out, Octagon focused on educating its employees on the topics rather than posting a series of (meaningless) statements on its social-media platforms.

However, Jessica Lee, vice president of communications at Alliance to End Plastic Waste, contended that brands need to tread carefully to ensure authenticity of their brand purpose. "Brands ... just have to make sure that they can communicate, you know, better (and) not alienate any segments of society," she said. "You can't go and all in on Black Lives Matter when you look at the board of directors, and (they are) all middle-aged white males." Rather than have one sweeping purpose, some companies may also need to embrace a more nuanced route on this subject, she argued. 

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