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Study: Consumers Are Four to Six Times More Likely to Buy From, Trust, Champion, Defend Brands With a Strong Purpose

Zeno Group’s Global Analysis of 8,000 Consumers, 75 Brands Sees Bottom-line Benefits of Purpose

Study: Consumers Are Four to Six Times More Likely to Buy From, Trust, Champion, Defend Brands With a Strong Purpose

Zeno Group’s Global Analysis of 8,000 Consumers, 75 Brands Sees Bottom-line Benefits of Purpose

Published 06-18-20

Submitted by Zeno Group

A global study analyzing the business value of brands having a well understood Purpose has revealed a strong business benefit as consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong Purpose.

The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study, commissioned by Zeno Group, the global, integrated communications agency, surveyed more than 8,000 individuals across 8 markets (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Singapore, Malaysia). As part of the study, consumers rated their perceived strength of Purpose of more than 75 brands. Zeno then performed a correlation and regression analysis to understand the relationship between consumers’ perceptions of a brand’s Purpose and their attitudes and intended behavior toward them.

Zeno found that when a brand is perceived to have a strong Purpose, consumers were:

  • Four times more likely to purchase from the brand;

  • Six times more likely to defend that brand in a challenging moment;

  • Four and a half times more likely to recommend (champion) the brand to friends and family;

  • Four times more likely to trust the brand.

Globally, France and the UK emerged as the countries most likely to trust, champion and defend a brand with a strong Purpose; consumers in Malaysia, India and Singapore were most likely to buy from a brand with a strong Purpose.

The survey also found that the benefits of a strong Purpose held across regions and generations, with 82% of consumers saying they took action to support a company or brand when they believed in its Purpose, sharing positive opinions of that brand with others, encouraging others to support or buy it, or starting to buy from the brand themselves.

Elements of Purposeful Brands

Zeno asked survey respondents to identify the top attributes of purposeful brands and uncovered eight key elements:

  • Fair treatment of all employees

  • Products or services that reflect the needs of people today

  • Ethical and sustainable business practices

  • Support for important social causes

  • Creation of new job opportunities

  • Diverse and inclusive culture

  • Issue advocacy

  • Strong set of values 

In North America and Europe, respondents ranked “fair treatment of employees” as the number one element of a purposeful brand. In Asia, consumers rated making “products and services that reflect the needs of people today” as the top element of a purposeful brand.

The Purpose Paradox

Consumers have also raised the bar and are looking to companies to advance progress on important issues within and outside of their operational footprint. Ninety four percent of global consumers say it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong Purpose. However, a significant gap exists as only 37% believe companies today actually do. Moreover, 83% of consumers surveyed globally said companies should only earn a profit if they have a positive impact, implying consumers have developed an expectation for brands and companies to have a higher calling beyond earning profits and rewarding shareholders.

“By evaluating over 75 global companies, this is truly the first study of its kind directly linking the strength of a brand’s Purpose to reputation and business benefits. The data proves that consumers expect companies to have a more meaningful reason for being and are making decisions about what to buy and where to work with an eye toward supporting those that share their values,” said Alison DaSilva, Managing Director, Purpose & Impact at Zeno Group. “Yet, companies are leaving equity and opportunity on the table as the majority of consumers do not believe companies today have a clear and strong Purpose. It has never been more important for companies to not only articulate their Purpose, but to consistently demonstrate that Purpose in how they operate, support issues and engage with all stakeholders.”

Holding Brands Accountable

The study also found the so-called “cancel culture” expressed in respondents’ replies, as nearly eight-in-ten (76%) global consumers indicated they will act against brands whose Purpose, values or behaviors they disagree with, by no longer buying from the brand, switching to a competitor, or discouraging others from buying  or supporting it. 

The cancel culture behavior appears strongest among younger generations, with 88% of Gen Z and 85% of Millennials saying they were more likely to act negatively towards a brand they disagreed with. Primary actions included sharing their opinions with family and friends, whereas Boomers and Matures were more likely to act with their wallets, saying they would stop buying from the brand altogether.

The inclination for consumers to act against brands or companies they disagreed with was stronger in Eastern countries (China, 92%; Malaysia, 91%; Singapore, 89%). Meanwhile, in the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom, consumers were slightly more forgiving of brands when they disappointed.

Younger Generations: Valuing Purpose

While respondents across generations recognized the strength and importance of Purpose, younger generations were most likely to champion on behalf of brands with a strong Purpose. Findings included:  

  • 92% of Gen Z and 90% of Millennial respondents say they would act in support of a purposeful brand – at least 10 percentage points higher than other generations surveyed.

  • 87% of Gen Z and 84% of Millennials state it’s a CEO, Founder, or Owner’s responsibility to drive a brand’s Purpose – six-to-three percentage points higher than all respondents.

  • 70% of Gen Z and Millennials feel a brand should have a Purpose they personally believe in – 22 percentage points higher than Boomers and Matures.

  • Across all survey questions, Gen Z led all generations in their positive affirmation of a brand’s Purpose.  

“When it comes to Gen Z – teens and 20-somethings – the stakes for brands couldn’t be higher, as many of these young people are in fact their own brands.  They expect brands to live their Purpose with action and to responsibly and consistently wield their economic and social power for good,” said Therese Caruso, Managing Director, Global Strategy & Planning at Zeno Group. “Gen Z’s number one ambition is to build a better world through the strength of collective action.  Those brands that do not put authentic and actionable Purpose at their core risk losing one of the most influential youth generations on the planet.”  

About the Research

Zeno Group conducted an online survey among 8,255 respondents 18+ years old across 8 global markets (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Singapore, Malaysia) in 4 languages to understand the evolving role of brand purpose in consumers’ lives. The survey fielded from October 2, 2019 through December 7, 2019. The margin of error is ± 1 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

About Zeno Group
Zeno Group is a global, integrated communications agency, born from PR. The award-winning agency is committed to work that delivers true business value for clients across consumer, corporate, health and technology industries. Zeno was named the 2019 Agency of the Year and Midsize Agency of the Year by both PRWeek and PRovoke Media (formerly known as The Holmes Report). Zeno also received high commendation as 2018 PRWeek US Midsize Agency of the Year and 2017 International Agency of the Year and named a Best Place to Work by PRWeek in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, the firm was named 2017 Midsize Agency of the Year and Global Consumer Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media. Zeno was also recognized at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in 2018, winning a Bronze PR Cannes Lion, and in 2016, winning a Gold Cannes Lion and a Bronze PR Cannes Lion.

Zeno is a DJE Holdings Company. For more information, visit us at

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