Tuesday 24 April 2018

Purpose gets Personal: Edelman’s goodpurpose® study reveals personal need trumps common good for Aussies

The level of social purpose activity and the weight that consumers place on it have become more reflective of socioeconomic trends in regions around the globe, according to the 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study. Amidst today’s persistent economic challenges and cultural upheaval, Social Purpose gets personal as people discover the me (personal need) in we (the common good).

With the rapid growth of the middle class around the globe, millions of consumers have a newfound level of purchasing power and they are demanding that brands and corporations take the lead on issues that remain personal to them –healthcare, disaster relief, clean water and poverty.

This is particularly true in Australia, where Edelman’s inaugural local goodpurpose study reveals that the issues that matter most to Australians are those that impact everyday life.

Top ranking Social Causes in Australia (Top Box, very Important):

  1. Improving the quality of healthcare (74%)
  2. Stopping violence and abuse (73%)
  3. Crime reduction and crime prevention (70%)
  4. Access to water (65%)

Large, complex and heavily politicized challenges like climate change, pollution and sustainable energy (42%), Biodiversity (27%), or Equality for Australian Indigenous Populations (30%), are far less important to Australians than the issues that can directly impact personal life. The communications challenge for the government, as well as business and NGO’s working in these areas, is to bring the conversation about these issues back into a personal context.

Roughly half of global consumers say that the responsibility of “people like me” to address societal issues has increased over the past year. Australians want to feel empowered to make a difference and be involved in social change.

As Australians’ relationships with social issues evolve, so do expectations for the private sector. A growing interest in causes, coupled with new channels of communication, has prompted the rise of “Citizen Actionism” – individuals who seek deeper involvement with social issues and expect brands and corporations to provide a means of engagement and participation.

The Australian data shows that the majority of Australians (83 percent) said it was very important for businesses to address social and community issues, yet only 29 percent believe business is performing well in addressing these issues.

A business’ action or inaction to address societal issues can influence its reputation; our data showed that Australians hesitate buying a product if a company treated its employees or suppliers unfairly and we are more likely to buy a product if they company made a positive impact on the local community.

Australians see the Food and Beverage industry as leading in its contribution to good causes and societal issues (36 percent). The Financial Services, Consumer Packaged Goods and Brewing and Spirits industries are seen as performing poorly (22 percent).

Global Trends:

Looking at global trends, Edelman finds that in Rapidly Growing Economies (like China, India, Brazil), consumers have historically been more aware of and closer to the reality of social issues – everything from poverty and hunger to health and education. Now, due to our shifting economic foundations, consumers in developed markets (like Italy, France and the U.S.) are finding themselves newly acquainted with personal need. We call it a reversal of Purpose fortune.

It has become more complex in the U.S. When it comes to societal issues, US consumers are most concerned about improving healthcare and alleviating hunger and homelessness. With crumpling reliance on institutions for addressing societal issues, US consumers now feel most responsible to address society’s issues.

U.S. consumers believe they should work together with government, business and NGOs to address societal issues. For the first time ever, the U.S. was the only country of the 16 markets surveyed to believe the responsibility of tackling society’s issues falls most heavily on the shoulders of “people like me” and not the government.


View the full goodpurpose presentation here.

View the Australian press release here and the global executive summary here.


-Kate Ferguson, Director, Edelman’s Corporate Brand practice