Wednesday 21 March 2018

Social Purpose Gets Personal As People Discover the “Me” in “We”

Global Study Reveals Personal Need Trumps Common Good for Aussies - Consumer Participation in Societal Issues Soars Globally, However Australians Less Likely To Take Action to Support Good Causes

Five years of data from Edelman’s global goodpurpose® study reveals Purpose is a driving force behind the reengineering of Brand Marketing around the world. As brands, corporations and markets re-orient around Purpose, consumers are developing and demonstrating personal values amidst today’s persistent economic challenges and cultural upheaval. More and more consumers are discovering the me (personal need) in we (the common good).

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

Large, complex and heavily politicized challenges like climate change, pollution and sustainable energy (42 percent), Biodiversity (27 percent), or Equality for Australian Indigenous Populations (30 percent), are far less important to Australians than the issues that can directly impact personal life.

“The communications challenge for business, the not for profit sector, environmental campaigners and the government departments working in these areas is to bring the conversation about these issues back into a personal context. Australians want to feel empowered to make a difference and be involved in social change,” said Michelle Hutton, CEO of Edelman Australia.

“As Australians’ relationships with social issues evolve, so do expectations for the private sector. A growing interest in societal issues and causes, coupled with new individual-driven channels of communication such as Facebook and Twitter, 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,” Hutton continued.

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 and community 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,” said Kate Ferguson, Director of Edelman’s Corporate Brand practice.

Only half of Australians surveyed said they are personally involved in supporting good causes

Although Aussies are more focused on societal and community issues that affect them personally, they are less likely to take action to support good causes. In fact, only 48 percent of Australians say they are personally involved in supporting a good cause. For most Aussies, personal involvement means donating. Sixty-four percent of Australians say they have donated money over the past year to address societal and community issues. Twenty-nine percent said they have donated time or expertise.

The global goodpurpose® study demonstrated that personal involvement in good causes is much more prevalent amongst ‘Rapidly Growing Economies’ like China (94 percent), India (78 percent), Brazil (65 percent) and the UAE (65 percent). Consumers in these markets are demonstrating their preference for Purpose across all facets of life including buying, sharing, donating, volunteering, praising and punishing. These consumers’ passion and action on behalf of brands stands in contrast to consumers from developed markets like the U.S. (53 percent) and the UK (53 percent).

“Consumers in Rapid Growing Economies have much higher expectations of and engagement with brands and corporations on societal issues. Their passion and action on behalf of purpose and good causes stands in stark contrast to Australians’ behaviour. There has been a significant growth of the middle class in these markets. They have a newfound level of purchasing power and they expect brands and corporations to take the lead on issues that matter to them,” said Ferguson.

The Reengineering of Brand Marketing: Purpose as a Purchase Trigger Grows 26 percent globally

Edelman’s global goodpurpose® study reveals the power of Purpose in helping to drive consumer preference in a world where trust in corporations is low and differentiation between brands is negligible.

Since 2008, when the quality and price of a product are deemed equal, social purpose has consistently been the leading purchase trigger for consumers around the world muscling design and innovation and brand loyalty aside. More than half (53 percent) of global consumers pegged social purpose as the most important factor in choosing one brand over another when quality and price are the same. Over the years, the relevance of Purpose as a purchase factor has risen 26 percent globally.

“Brands aligning themselves with an authentic purpose and cause are not only securing more consideration, but they are also earning their dollars and support. Fifty-eight percent of Australians would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause,” said Ferguson.

Not only are consumers making purchase decisions with Purpose top of mind, they are also buying and advocating for purposeful brands.

  • 68 percent of Australians say they are more likely to purchase a product knowing that a portion of the money would go to a good cause
  • 59 percent of Australians are more likely to recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t
  • 52 percent of Australians would help a brand promote their products or services if that brand supports a good cause
  • 36 percent of Australians buy brands that support a good cause at least monthly

However, Aussie brands are not doing a great job in communicating their commitment to Purpose. One in three Australians (28 percent) said they did not know if they had purchased a product that supported a good cause. If Australian companies can make consumers aware of their efforts to address societal issues, Australia’s purchase intent may climb closer to the global average. Eighty-four percent of global consumers say they purchase a product that supports a good cause at least yearly. The local study revealed that only 57 percent of Australians purchase a product that supports a good cause at least once a year.

Additional data for Edelman Australia’s 2012 goodpurpose® study:

1. Issues that matter most to Australians

2. Consumer expectations of Business

  • 83 percent of Australians said it was important for business to address social and community issues
  • 61 percent of Australians said they are hesitant to buy products if the company that makes them treats employees and suppliers unfairly
  • 57 percent of Australians said they are more likely to buy a product if the company creates programs to positively impact 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)

To view the 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® global study, visit

About the 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study
The 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study is the firm’s fifth annual global consumer study that explores consumer attitudes around social purpose, including their commitment to specific societal issues and their expectations of brands and corporations. The survey was conducted by StrategyOne in January and February of 2012 and consisted of online interviews in 16 countries among 8,000 adults. Five-hundred respondents were surveyed in each of the following markets: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. The margin of error is +/-1.1% for the full Global sample; +/-1.4% for the Global tracking sample; and +/-4.4% for each country’s sample. The global data included in this report excludes Australia.
To supplement the global goodpurpose® 2012 study, Edelman Australia commissioned supplementary research. The views of the general population (sample size 1,000, General Population, Ages 18+) were surveyed by Catalyst Research in March, 2012.

  • Julian

    Wow, this article blew my socks off. Have you created anything more recently like this by any chance?

    I found it really interesting about the social cause interests in 2013, healthcare is the word! It’s good to know that we have a preventative rather then completely reactive society.

    I write a blog ( to help facilitate UNSW students this year create content and awareness for social innovation. So very excited to share some of this content!

    Thanks Edelman team!