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Purpose in Marketing – Not Real & Here Yet

Purpose in marketing is yet to show any real impact in achieving business outcomes, agencies argue successfully

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Purpose in marketing is critical but brands that are already seeing purpose making an impact on business outcomes are few and far in between. In a debate that took place at the Marketing Whitebook Summit in Delhi on August 22, 2019, marketers and agency chiefs argued whether purpose was already playing this role for companies. The debate was moderated by Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands.

Speaker in favour of the motion, Shubhodip Pal, CMO, Revolt Motors informed, “Nearly 70 per cent of millennials get attached to brands that have a purpose. It may not always be scalable and durable but there must be a purpose for every brand. If purpose is defined, then it’s easy for an organisation from a leadership standpoint to align people from a customer's point of view and reach its end goals.” 

Arguing against the motion, Tanmay Mohanty, Group CEO, Zenith India & Head - Global Partnerships said, “Purpose marketing has not evolved. Marketers find it difficult to have a purpose and start with it. In most of the cases, they launch campaigns but it’s difficult to get the return on investment (ROI). If you don’t know the consumer, then you don’t know the purpose. The campaign doesn’t work.” 

The second speaker for the motion, “Sai Narayan, CMO, Paisabazaar.com said, “Brand purpose comes from solving a consumer problem. The biggest problem, for instance, we are trying to solve in our category is that insurance was being sold offline and many times was associated with mis-selling. We looked at how to solve this problem. Brands should focus on problems consumers are facing and that’s where a purpose comes in. One can’t confuse between what is a brand’s core purpose and brand advertising communication.” 

Replying to the moderator on how marketing is then different, Narayan said, “If a brand does not have a purpose, what is the meaning of its existence?” 

Building on what her team’s speaker said, Yashaswini Samat, Chairman & MD, Grey Group India explained that marketers need to first figure out their role in a consumer’s life. “Once they figure out what role the brand plays in a consumer’s life, marketers should then build a story around it, and then advertise. That should be the order,” she argued, pointing out that it was very easy for brands to jump on the ‘purpose’ bandwagon without considering the order. 

“We need to understand the brand’s role in a consumer’s life to make it easier and better, and that drives growth,” she said.

By way of audience voting, Against the motion, represented by the agency team, won the debate. 


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