UK consumers buying from companies that take a stand on issues they care about and ditching those that don’t, Accenture study finds

‘Purpose’ is now a powerful force helping companies build deeper consumer connections and improve competitiveness.

LONDON; Dec. 5, 2018 – Over half of UK consumers (53 percent) prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs, and are ditching those that don’t, according to new research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The fourteenth annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research – ‘From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand’ – surveyed more than 2,000 UK consumers to gauge their expectations of brands and companies today. The study found that companies that stand for something bigger than what they sell, communicate their purpose and demonstrate commitment, are more likely to attract consumers and influence purchasing decisions which improves competitiveness.

“UK consumers are investing their time, money and attention in brands that have a genuine commitment to important principles that they care about – such as health and wellbeing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and family connections. These principles guide every business decision. Be warned – people can see through inauthenticity and won’t tolerate it,” said Rachel Barton, managing director, Accenture Strategy.

UK consumers are investing their time, money and attention in brands that have a genuine commitment to important principles that they care about.

Purpose influencing purchasing decisions
Sixty-four percent of Gen Z and Millennials (aged 18-29) in the UK want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) say their purchasing decisions are influenced by the words, values and actions of a company’s leaders. Interestingly, two-thirds (66 percent) of Baby Boomers (aged 55-74) are attracted to companies that reduce plastics, compared to 60 percent of Gen Z and Millennials.

Authenticity and trust driving growth
Today, over half (55 percent) of UK consumers say their purchasing consideration is driven by a company’s ethical values and authenticity. Furthermore, two-thirds crave greater transparency in how companies source their products, ensure safe working conditions and their stance on important issues such as animal testing. Accenture Strategy analysis found that a drop in stakeholder trust can severely impact an organisation’s competitiveness and potential revenues by millions of pounds.

Consumers changing the trajectory of companies
Over half (55 percent) of UK consumers believe their individual protest actions, such as boycotting a company or speaking out on social media, can make a difference in how companies behave. Over a third (37 percent) have stopped doing business with a company as a result of its actions.
Purpose-led companies build deeper consumer connections which improves competitiveness.

“Consumers have the power to bring about success or failure to companies. They are more than buyers – they are active stakeholders and want to feel a sense of shared purpose. These findings should be a powerful wake-up call for all brands to become purpose-led organisations,” Barton said.

Organisations that want to build stronger consumer connections and sustain their competitiveness by becoming purpose-led can do so by:

  1. Defining what their business stands for: Companies need to determine the larger role they want to play in their customers’ lives and put a stake in the ground. Leaders can do that by understanding what their customers feel passionately about, why their employees choose to work for them and why other businesses partner with them. They’ll find what makes the company special and can use it to make a difference.
  2. Being clear and authentic: Consumers can see through inauthenticity. If a company is truly committed to its purpose, its principles guide every business decision. This purpose will bind consumers, employees and shareholders alike. It requires bold leadership where actions speak louder than words.
  3. Engaging consumers on a deeper level: With consumers actively aligning themselves to specific companies and having a stake in their success, businesses can capitalise on this energy by getting customers involved in co-creating new products and services, designing initiatives or partnerships, and investing in the company’s growth in exchange for personalised rewards. Including customers in their innovation ecosystem will help companies maintain their relevance, identify new growth opportunities and markets, and keep them on track with delivering on their promises.

About the research
The fourteenth annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers from around the world – including more than 2,000 UK consumers – to understand their expectations from the brands and companies they buy products and services from today. The survey included online responses from respondents in 35 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom and the United States. The survey was conducted from August – October 2018.

About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 459,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at Accenture.

Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business and technology. We bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and function strategy to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption, competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, follow @AccentureStrator visit Accenture Strategy.

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Lucy Davies
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