4 Ways Brands Can Bring Purpose to Their Marketing Strategies This Giving Tuesday

Consumers want to feel strongly about a company's mission

Giving Tuesday is a good opportunity for brands to consider the purpose they bring to their campaigns. Getty Images

Global citizens will soon collectively unite to donate to organizations and causes that matter to them this Giving Tuesday. Celebrated annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, consumers will undoubtedly give their time, lend their voice or make a monetary donation to some sort of cause.

The onus to do good has largely fallen on social do-gooders in a world that has seemingly gone mad. Deep down, everyone has a reason for being, and when they use social media channels like they do on Giving Tuesday to show what really matters, that’s when the magic happens.

So much attention is routinely given to unearthing the mindset and habits of millennials and Gen Z. It’s high time we welcome and give gratitude to the purpose generation, which is not delineated by the year in which you were born. The purpose generation encompasses consumers of all races, ages, sexual orientations and beliefs. It’s the generation that we need to celebrate and elevate in our ever-divided world.

It’s time to put down some of the data around campaigns and initiatives and focus more on meaning. Purpose is not marketing; it’s living. Consumers are out there hustling and trying to thrive in a world that’s distracting, fast-paced and constantly evolving. Brands need to become their ally and embrace their generous support.

Purpose is the new black. The purpose generation is basically everyone. It’s a tuned in, bullshit-reading, give-a-crap generation that is gaining strength and a stronger voice.

People are hungry to feel strongly about things, to share, engage and relate. Brands have a unique opportunity to have a tangible, dynamic presence in people’s lives.

This generation is a far cry from the demo in the 1950s who labored to achieve the American Dream. Back then, consumers worked hard to retire at 50 and enjoy the fruits of their labor. People basically put their personal values on hold and toiled away in the trenches. Purpose, they believed, was reserved for their golden years. Boomers, on the other hand, were raised with a drive to secure what their parents couldn’t have. They still toiled away, but hit a wall at 40 and often attempted to reinvent their lives in the form of a second career with more meaning. Showing up with a purpose was something that typically followed a crisis.

Thankfully, purpose is becoming the guiding mantra for more people and businesses. No matter what your generational moniker, the purpose generation yearns to find meaning in everything. From the products they buy to trips they take to the time they spend with friends and family, purpose is at the epicenter of their decisions. While countless brands and consumers have identified their purpose and continually activate against it, many have not.

Most leaders and companies start from the outside by championing their product. But in a crowded, noisy marketplace, it’s the why more than the what that makes a difference. Why speaks to purpose, cause, belief and motivation. It is why consumers get out of bed each morning, why they’re inspired to do what they do. Having loyal customers and building a community comes down to reaching out to the people who also believe in your why. But beware: If your why isn’t authentic, consumers will know and revolt. When reaching the purpose generation, it doesn’t get much worse than fabricating a mission.

The popularity of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram show that members of the purpose generation crave connectivity. Brands are extensions of our beliefs and are in a great position to create their own communities. The most successful brands feel like extensions of us. Most importantly, they invite us in and we eat up that sense of inclusion. As a thanks, we share our brand loyalty across digital channels. The purpose generation really values recommendations from friends so it behooves brands to get people talking. Sharing positive experiences inspires followers and invites more people into a brand community. People are hungry to feel strongly about things, to share, engage and relate. Brands have a unique opportunity to have a tangible, dynamic presence in people’s lives. Fostering a real community of fans should be a top priority, not an end game.

Here are some rules for engagement to avoid cringe-worthy flubs.

Let consumers in

Big business has long been synonymous with big secrets. By offering consumers access to their operations and beliefs, they’ll likely reduce consumer fear and skepticism. Transparency, communications, accountability and authenticity are key.

Consumers call them out

Transparency in business means giving customers the ability to peer under your hood. The most successful brands of today use transparency to become the necessary brands. Consumers are savvier about the nuances of marketing and communication than ever before. Their bullshit radars are on point. Brands must use their social feeds to engage with followers, repost user-generated content and answer their questions so they attract new followers. Consumer feedback must be encouraged, and brands must be consistent and harness a true identity through all aspects of their business.

Trust is no longer just “nice to have”

It’s a total make-or-break piece of the puzzle. The Purpose Generation doesn’t simply appreciate transparency, accountability, and authenticity. They require it AND they’ll reward brands that adopt these practices with mega loyalty.

Curate well

The purpose generation is the share generation. They love a good Instagrammable moment. Give them things worth sharing. They have a particular vision for their lives and aren’t shy about getting there. Self-expression is super important to them, and they seek out brands and experiences that are extensions of their individual beliefs and identities. Consumers want to associate with brands and movements that are exciting and aspirational.

The purpose generation is concerned with big-picture issues, but they also value and care about details. They gravitate to things that are special and unique, that are seemingly made for them. Brands that nail these elements will set themselves up to create grassroots brand ambassadors who love what you do and love to talk about it. It’s time to purpose and prosper.

Kirsten Ludwig is founder and president of IN GOOD CO.