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From me to we: The rise of the purpose-led brand

December 5, 2018


In brief


Nearly half of US consumers who are disappointed by a brand’s words or actions on a social issue complain about it.


42 percent of consumers walk away from the brand in frustration. One in five (21 percent) never come back.

Purpose-led companies improve competitiveness

Click on a pin to see a city-specific infographic:

Who does your brand belong to?

To affinity and beyond

pur·pose /ˈpərpəs /

Noun: The reason why something exists. For companies, it is the foundation of every experience. It is the underlying essence that makes a brand relevant and necessary.

Not all brands are created equal


Companies in the United States and other mature markets are more likely to expand their focus from individual experiences to collective values and shared experiences.

Product categories

Brand purpose is less important for companies producing basic, essential "utility" products such as laundry detergent than for brands that offer an "experience."


Brand maturity

New, smaller brands often use their purpose as a competitive strategy against larger rivals whose brand meaning has long been tied to product quality.


The age of the target customers can help US companies determine how to focus their brand purpose.

Ecosystem readiness

US companies will find it easier to activate a purpose that is relevant on a group scale when they engage a brand ecosystem.

Activate your brand purpose

Be human. Involve customers, employees and the larger ecosystem of stakeholders to identify shared values and areas where the company can make a difference. Communication is key, as more than half of US consumers find brands that actively communicate their purpose more attractive.

Be clear and authentic. Consumers don’t fall for insincere attempts to pull at heartstrings. They do, however, reward authenticity, strong leadership and outspokenness. Our research found that almost 60 percent of US consumers are influenced to buy a brand, product or service by the words, actions, values and beliefs of a company’s senior executives and other employees.

Be creative. American companies should focus less on investing for customers and more on investing with their new ecosystem partners to drive competitive agility. From acting as sales partners through channels they control or influence, to participating in crowdsourcing schemes to fund new innovations, there’s virtually no limit to the roles consumers can play.

Stand up to stand out

Rachel Barton

Senior Managing Director – Accenture Strategy

Rachel advises business leaders on how they can drive growth and transformation agendas through disruptive technologies, data and leading-edge customer strategies.

Kevin Quiring


Kevin heads Accenture Strategy Customer Insights & Growth Strategy in North America.

Strategy Advisor

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Full Report

The most competitive companies stand for something bigger than what they sell. Read more.


Customers want brands to stand for more than what they do, or sell. Learn more.

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