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Sustainability Agency Leadership Brand Strategy

Purposeful brands have an opportunity to support era-defining causes

By Alex Lewis | Co-founder

Revolt

|

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January 31, 2024 | 8 min read

Alex Lewis of Revolt says that brands can help tackle some of the biggest global issues, while also improving their customer base. The agency’s latest research shows which causes we care most about.

A glacier in Argentina

How can brands get purpose right? Revolt's Alex Lewis investigates / Agustín Lautaro via Unsplash

Over the past year, the world has experienced war and geopolitical change, endured the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and seen the devastating effects of climate change. Populations who are under strain and seeking help from their governments, and many others feel they can do little more than stand by and watch. All of this is reflected in Revolts Causes That Count index, which annually ranks the 50 issues that matter most to consumers.

The index surveys 5,000 people across five markets. Of the concerns utmost in their minds this year, ‘Poverty, hunger and homelessness’ was the number one issue for respondents. Large-scale conflict and wars came in at number two, while climate change was third. Key issues such as the refugee crisis and access to healthy food have made big leaps up the table in this year’s report. At the same time, we found a stabilization of the issues which matter most to people, with famine and food security, government transparency, access to healthcare and access to quality education all remaining firmly in the top 10. These findings are significant for purposeful brands looking to understand the causes seen as most important and in need of their support.

The 3 most pressing causes for consumers

Poverty, hunger and homelessnesshas been the number one concern for people around the world for the last two years. In the markets researched by Revolt, it took top position in the UK, US, India and Brazil, and was second in China. Inflation could be a driving force behind this concern, with rising food prices, mortgage rates and rental costs continuing to take a toll. In the face of escalating inequality, brands need to remain cognizant of these escalating inequalities when considering how best to provide support in the work they do.

Large-scale conflict and warsrose from fifth place in 2023 to second in this years report. As well as the war in Ukraine, last year saw escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the attendant humanitarian crisis. There are many other wars around the world – the Global Peace Index highlights 79 countries affected by conflict. These conflicts are having a direct impact on brandssupply chains and costs, but companies must look beyond this at how to provide aid and support to communities affected around the world.

Climate change has remained understandably high in the rankings – moving up one place from 2023 to third position. Despite progress in policies and legislation on climate mitigation, the IPCC still predicts that warming will exceed 1.5°C before 2030. Last year, we witnessed a series of unprecedented extreme weather events leading to deaths across the globe. Research shows that consumers increasingly see the link between climate change and extreme weather, so it is imperative brands continue to focus on the impact climate change is having on peoples everyday lives. There’s vast opportunity for companies to present their products and services as beneficial to both consumers and the climate.

Among other changes, the top ten stays the same

From Revolts research, its clear that the top 10 issues are settling into being the ‘key causes of our era’. For brands whose operations touch one of these issues, there is both a need and opportunity to step up purposeful action. And for brands looking to align with a cause that has broad consumer appeal, the top 10 provides a good guide for where consumer concern lies.

For those organizations looking to understand future trends in causes, the risers and fallers in this years Causes That Count, provide vital insights. The refugee crisis is the highest rising cause this year, jumping nine places to 32. This issue has become a defining cause of recent times, with crises in Syria, Ukraine and Gaza dominating headlines. There is also a possibility of substantial future risk, with 1.2 billion people potentially facing displacement due to climate disasters before 2050, - with climate refugees not currently protected by the 1951 Refugee Convention. Here, brands have a chance to create a positive impact for some of the most vulnerable people while also expanding their customer base.

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‘Obesity, access to healthy food and exercise’ rose by six places to 29. Global food inflation persisted after a spike in 2022, as experts suggest that 50% of the world will be obese or overweight by 2035. Brands - especially food brands - can work here to provide affordable nutrition in the form of product innovations, partnerships, meal programs and charity donations. And, not surprisingly, artificial intelligences impact on people and society climbed five places, but is still waiting in the wings at 41.

This years Causes That Count point to opportunities for brands to help both people and the planet while driving business growth: innovating and adapting, or reframing, the role of products and services can go a long way to improving consumer engagement in the areas where concern exists.

Sustainability Agency Leadership Brand Strategy

Content by The Drum Network member:

Revolt

The world is on fire. There’s no time to watch from the sidelines. The most successful brands of tomorrow will be the ones that take a stand today. It’s time to pick a fight. We are Revolt. A purpose consultancy built to start and spread revolutions with partners that want to change the world.

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