Over the past few years, a new generation of employees, business owners and consumers have become the driving force of global business and consumption trends.

As young consumers gain most of the buying power, there has been a tangible shift in the way purchasing decisions are made. Where previous generations were primarily swayed by pricing considerations or brand loyalty, today’s young customers are largely influenced in their buying choices by the demonstrable commitment of companies and brands to have a real and lasting positive impact on the world.

These same consumers are bringing this fervour for, and insistence on positive social, environmental and economic change, into the workplace. In fact, it could be argued that for many of today’s talented young job candidates, when considering an employment opportunity, the prospective employer’s commitment to doing good carries as much weight as the salary package and benefits they are offering.

This seismic shift in brand and organisational perceptions amongst today’s consumers and employees was confirmed by Accenture’s 2018 Global Consumer Pulse Research survey of some 30 000 consumers across the world. The findings indicated that companies and brands that went beyond communicating just their product or service offerings, but also engaged with consumers around their social commitment, significantly increased their attractiveness to consumers and positively influenced their buying decisions.

The findings are a clear indication that consumers are no longer willing to invest their time, money or loyalty into organisations and brands that merely focus on selling products and services.

Even if those products and services are of good quality at competitive prices. Instead, they are far more discerning, and their buying decisions are carefully considered, with significant weighting placed on whether a brand, company, product or service aligns with their personal values and beliefs.

And given that consumers now have access to comprehensive information about the brands and companies they are considering supporting, this shift in decision making factors has huge relevance and importance for every business in operation today.

That’s because this new wave of socially conscious and environmentally aware consumers and employees is adamant that it is the responsibility of today’s businesses to be drivers of positive change and meaningful transformation. This expectation has resulted in a significant shift in the way in which brands must see their role in society. It is no longer enough for a brand to support causes or throw money at charitable projects. Where in the past, it may have been sufficient for a company to have a separate corporate social investment strategy and give some of its profits to worthy causes, today the expectation is that the entire organisation demonstrates real commitment to sustainable transformation, and that this commitment is central to its business strategy and operational decisions.

That’s not to say that CSI doesn’t still have an important role to play in bringing about positive societal change. What it does mean is that making such change the sole responsibility of a CSI arm, simply isn’t going to cut it anymore. What is expected of organisations now is that contributing to the transformation of society and conservation of the environment is core to the business.

Delivering on that expectation ultimately comes down to one thing, and that is that today’s brands have to be purpose led.

There are few places in the world where this shift is more necessary than South Africa. Our country’s legacy of social and economic inequality places both a moral obligation and business imperative on every organisation and brand to be driven by a clear purpose to deliver positive change.

While this has always been the case, the fact that a new generation of consumers and employees has reached the age where they have the financial power to literally make or break a company, means that those brands which have managed to survive without a clear purpose, now have no option but to fundamentally transform the way they work, for good.

Against this backdrop, the question then has to be asked: What is a purpose-led brand? At Nedbank, a purpose is ultimately what anchors a brand, and keeps it stable, consistent and solid irrespective of the circumstances in which it exists. Being purpose led means that a brand has a strong voice and clear opinions about those things that matter most to its customers. And a purpose-led brand is one that is committed to enabling, encouraging and facilitating positive change.

As a bank committed to doing good, Nedbank doesn’t merely take an approach that involves opposing negative social or environmental issues, but seeks out opportunities to proactively bring about positive change by doing good. Ultimately, being purpose led means shifting the emphasis from what you do, to why you do it.

In the end, the brands that will survive these turbulent global times will be those that are able to demonstrate sincerity and authenticity to an increasingly discerning and aware market.

And that sincerity will never be achieved by highlighting some aspect of social or environmental investment, or ‘getting behind’ a cause. It demands that they have clear conviction and a stated purpose, and are determined to do whatever necessary to translate that into sustainable action that delivers real and lasting results. In other words, to be a winning brand today, you have to stand for something.

From financial transactions to financial wellness: Rethinking the role of banking.
A challenging economic environment, coupled with high unemployment rates and rising living costs means that most South Africans find themselves under increasing financial pressure. As part of Nedbank’s commitment to helping their clients, and all South Africans begin this all-important money journey, they teamed up with psychologist, Dr Tshepiso Matentjie, to create the framework needed to fully understand what drives the financial decisions that we all make, and how best to improve their quality. The Money Secrets campaign aims to help clients uncover their money ‘secrets’ and gain a clear understanding of those money relationships and habits that are holding them back from achieving the financial outcomes they desire. The bank’s objective is to offer practical strategies by which clients can make the mental shifts, embrace the values, and adopt the behaviours needed to build resilience and achieve long-term financial success.