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Brands' Magic With Purpose

A quick cause-marketing playbook that helps identify the right cause, establish credibility and achieve impact

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The young millennials and Gen Z are actively shaping the evolving retail and brand landscape in India. From products and services that seamlessly align with their fluid lifestyles to the entire cycle of exploration, discovery, payment and procurement, the new-age consumer seeks values beyond the price tag. Forward-thinking and progressive values build an immediate connect between the brand and the large younger demographic, while purpose strengthens this connect and leads to the creation of a loyal community that serves not only as consumers but also as brand advocates. Thus, cause marketing is becoming the buzzword for brands that wish to not simply survive but thrive in a more socially and environmentally aware new world.

The Essentials

Finding the right cause is the most critical step when seeking to build a brand with purpose. An article published in the Harvard Business Review, ‘What is The Purpose of Your Purpose’ summarises the thought in this one statement – ‘don’t rally around a cause unless you actually have one.’ The purpose must be clearly expressed as well as seamlessly permeate through every aspect of the business in order to establish credibility and achieve impact. Further stated in the aforementioned Harvard Business Review article -- the full potential of purpose is achieved only when it’s aligned with a company’s value proposition and creates shared aspirations both internally and externally. For instance, Reckitt’s mission of ‘purpose-led business’ aims to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner and healthier world and this purpose is well entrenched across its brands in the hygiene, health and nutrition businesses. 

Creating an effective marketing strategy to amplify the cause amongst the key target audience and enable change is equally important as identifying the right cause itself. Thoughtful partnerships with relevant international and national organisations as well as on-ground NGOs are critical for building scale and the right synergies to address the cause.  From aligning with the sustainable development goals (SDG) of the United Nations to forging strong relationships with international NGOs such as Plan India and leading industry bodies such as Assocham as well as local influencers; Reckitt’s Durex brand, through initiatives such as TBBT and the Condom Alliance, has successfully amplified the need to focus on the youth’s sexual and reproductive health 

Innovation and creative thinking are essential to design content, messaging and communication that compels the larger audience to take notice and eventually become partners in this journey of making the world a little bit better. TBBT aims to inform and educate the adolescents and youth in north-east India about sexual and reproductive health as well as empower them to make the right choices. The north-east is known for the locals’ inherent love for music, art and culture. Hence these elements formed an integral part of the creatively designed social media strategy as well as the on-ground efforts, training and workshops that continue to serve as catalysts to start those meaningful conversations and foster change. Creating a holistic ecosystem with a strong digital footprint has allowed the programme to reach a large target audience and compel them to take notice and initiate those sometimes uncomfortable but essential dialogues around TBBT’s core pillars of inclusion, awareness, equity, consent and protection to build a healthier tomorrow. 

Funds are important to support a cause and even essential to build the online and offline activations as well as amplify the reach, however, it is the efforts that are rewarded as a sign of commitment and ownership. Being a frontrunner at the TBBT events and staying actively engaged in forging new creative paths for the programme allow Reckitt’s Durex to now be recognised as a thought leader, invested in ensuring better health for our future generations while staying committed to providing power, protection and pleasure. 

Finally, it is the transparency and the impact that help create the necessary credibility for the purpose and encourage others including consumers to partner in the brand’s journey of bringing about change. Along with an online reach of over 320 million, TBBT has reached over 50K students and 30K parents across 1,300 schools, with nearly 2,300 trained teachers. While the numbers are stark in themselves, they become even more staggering when one connects them to the adverse situation of dealing with a pandemic. Thus, showcasing the positive influence of the programme and its strong circle of advocates who are willing to face all odds to see the much-needed social change – creating a true win for the brand and the campaign. 

Product or service focused marketing is no longer sustainable with a highly evolved consumer base. Cause marketing allows brands to answer the all-important question of ‘why they exist’ and ‘why they matter’, while positioning themselves as change-makers.  Adopting causes that are in sync with a brand’s values creates a self-sustained model that instantly appeals to the discerning Gen Z audience, who aren’t afraid to call out green-washing efforts even by some of the largest conglomerates.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 4 June 2022 Gen Z

Ravi Bhatnagar

Director, External Affairs & Partnerships, South Asia, Reckitt

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