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Peter Field and IPA: purpose campaigns drive customer acquisition and market share

Purpose-based campaigns, such as recent work from soap brand Lifebuoy, have been found to drive market share

Brand purpose campaigns drive 15% more market share growth than marketing campaigns that don’t focus on purpose, according to new statistics from marketing and advertising researcher Peter Field.

The research, published today by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), shows that brand campaigns that include a social or environmental justice focus are frequently more effective than campaigns that do not at driving customer acquisition and brand-building.

What does the research show?

  • Field’s research estimates that 50% of well-executed brand purpose campaigns helped drive customer acquisition, compared to 30% of non-purpose campaigns.

  • 41% of well-executed brand purpose campaigns drove a very large growth in market share v 26% of non-purpose campaigns.

  • Badly executed purpose campaigns performed worse than non-purpose brand campaigns, though – 0% drove significant market share and only 5% drove customer acquisition.

  • Field said: “When brand purpose is done well, it can be incredibly effective, but to be good there are particular learnings to observe.

  • “What these findings show is that we shouldn’t dismiss brand purpose out of hand. As we see here, there can be considerable benefits for companies in deploying brand purpose campaigns – both for engaging their own employees, stakeholders and investors as well as for driving customer sales. When it is done well, when it is genuine and credible, brand purpose can be very powerful.”

How was the research conducted?

  • The study was based on a corpus of 380 brand campaign cases, including purpose-based and non-purpose-based work, drawn from the IPA Effectiveness Awards Databank.

  • Janet Hull OBE, IPA director of marketing strategy and executive director IPA EffWorks, said: “Even though brand purpose is a relatively new science, there is already evidence coming from the IPA Databank of the range of its appeal to different stakeholders. Given growing industry interest in brand purpose strategies, we can expect to see many more cases in the 2022 IPA Effectiveness Awards to take our learning forward.”

  • Field calculates the average number of ‘very large business effects,’ such as significant customer acquisition or brand awareness, for non-purpose-based campaigns to be 1.6.

  • Though the same figure for all purpose campaigns was 1.1, Field differentiates between ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ campaigns depending on how well the work was executed.

  • For ’strong’ purpose campaigns, the average number of large business effects was 2.1.

  • Field used a set definition for a purpose-driven brand campaign: “A commitment articulated by a commercial brand or its parent company to goals other than improved profits or products, involving contribution toward one or more positive social impacts in the fields of health, the environment, human development, sustainable business practices or other similar areas.”

  • The research was presented at the IPA EffWorks Global 2021 Conference.

What does it mean for marketers?

  • Field suggests that brand purpose campaigns perform well in four principal areas: developing in-store presence; distinctiveness; penetration growth; and mass appeal.

  • He points to campaigns from Bisto, Lifebuoy, Volvo Australia, Waitrose, Kenco and Dove as strong case studies.

  • Field also found that purpose campaigns typically pull in more media coverage, amplifying their message, and help boost employee satisfaction.

  • He also points out that improving environmental and social governance (ESG) performance can satisfy other stakeholders, such as suppliers, distributors and investors.

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