How a Purpose-Driven Culture Gets You More Loyal Customers

Is purpose-driven culture the key to unlocking customer loyalty? If you ask actual consumers, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. Eight in ten consumers say they’re more loyal to purpose-driven brands.

The financial evidence is equally compelling — research shows that “purposeful” companies outperform the stock market by 42%.

Purposeful companies outperform the stock market by 42%.

This all sounds great, you might be thinking — but what does a purpose-driven culture actually look like? And how does it drive these kinds of results?

That’s what we’re going to cover in this article. First, we’ll look at what it really means to be purpose-driven. Then we’ll explore 5 specific traits of a purpose-driven culture. Finally, we’ll walk through just how a purpose-driven culture actually attracts and retains loyal customers.

Quick Takeaways

  • 90% of executives report that they know purpose is an important business driver today.
  • Nearly all consumers (94%) say it’s important that brands they interact with have a strong purpose.
  • Employees care about purpose, too — more than half of job seekers won’t even consider working for a company whose purpose does not align with their own.
  • Purpose-driven cultures drive higher levels of organizational innovation.

What does it mean to be purpose-driven?

In short, being a purpose-driven company means contributing to society in a larger way through your mission and the products and services you provide. The execution of purpose can vary — some companies have it inherently built into what they do (for example, a business built around creating sustainable products), while others (like many older, large-scale enterprises) have had to discover and activate purpose as societal expectations grew over time.

Being purpose-driven really comes down to companies finding the why behind their existence, and emphasizing how their employees, customers, and the world benefit from it.

Harvard Business Review defines it like this: “organizational purpose [is] an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization and its partners and stakeholders and provides benefit to local and global society.”

HBR’s survey of 450+ executives found that the overwhelming majority — 90% — recognize the importance of this purpose, but only 46% said it actually informs their strategic and operational decision making.

The thing is, consumers today don’t hesitate to hold organizations to a high standard when it comes to putting purpose-related promises into action. To earn higher levels of customer loyalty, companies must build a true purpose-driven culture from the inside out, reflected by their employees, strategies, operations, and customer offerings.

5 Traits of a Purpose-Driven Culture

Employees know and are invested in company purpose

Culture, of course, begins with the people who work within your organization. A purpose-driven culture is known and embraced by employees, who live it through their daily work. Research shows that employees today want their company’s values to align with their own — more than half won’t even consider working for a company when this is not the case.

This is good news for companies. When an organization clearly and publicly defines its purpose, it can expect to attract employees who believe in it. Authentically engaged employees are more likely to keep purpose top-of-mind in their work and act as brand advocates that help to attract loyal customers.

Purpose and values play a role in decision-making

Consider the aforementioned disconnect between companies who know purpose is important and those who actually make it part of their decision-making. Closing this gap is one of the most important ways to build and maintain a purpose-driven culture.

Integrating your purpose with go-to-market strategies is what makes it more than a marketing message and shows your customers you deliver on what you say. It requires a top-down approach, in which leaders prioritize making company purpose a present part of internal communication and a priority amidst strategy planning and execution.

Innovation happens naturally

A purpose-driven culture creates engaged employees. Engaged employees are more likely to be invested in their work and think innovatively about how to solve problems and meet customer needs. Deloitte reports that purpose-driven organizations report 30% higher levels of innovation than their competitors.

Nearly three-quarters of the most purpose-driven companies (represented by the yellow bar in the graphic below) named innovation an important element of their purpose, along with other top factors like delivering customer value and positively impacting society.

73% of executives named innovation as an important element of their organization’s purpose.

Customers know and are drawn to company purpose

Purpose-driven organizations share their purpose with customers, and it’s part of the reason customers are drawn to their brand. Purpose is present in product/service offerings, advertising, content, and of course mission.

When companies demonstrate purpose in these ways, they can expect customers within their target audiences to find them. Nearly every consumer — 94% — say it’s important to them that the brands they engage with have a strong purpose.

How Company Purpose Builds Customer Loyalty

Today, consumers have more options than ever when it comes to choosing between providers and finding brands they want to engage with. Purpose is a powerful differentiator in a crowded market landscape.

It builds customer loyalty because it taps into customer emotion (an undeniable factor in purchase decisions) and it creates brand trust beyond standard product/service quality.

When customers feel a connection to your company driven by purpose, they become more than just customers — they become true brand advocates that help your company grow.

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