Purpose: Driving Business Strategy
Purpose: Driving Business Strategy

The concept of brand purpose has become a hot topic these days. How to develop; how to execute; and how to evaluate.  Bob Wheatley, CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency and John McGarr, President of Fresh Squeezed Ideas, are two preeminent voices on this strategic development. They weigh in from both a behavioral science strategy and a marketing perspective.


The core tenets and forces that generate business growth are changing. In food and beverage for example, traditional purchase behaviors driven by taste, price and convenience are being replaced. Now more than 50 percent of consumers “weigh factors including health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience and transparency” in their purchase decisions.¹ 

The pendulum has swung, the business world has transformed, culture has moved — and the impact is reaching into food, beverage and lifestyle brand categories. The result: changing fundamentals of what works vs. what doesn’t work — to create growth, to evolve.

For context, in the 1970s we had the Production Economy² driven by efficiencies in scale, alongside a desire for consistency and convenience. In the 1980s we saw the Experience Economy³ take root as an evolution of the former, with a rapid growth in service industries while manufacturing was pushed off shore. The 1990s and early 2000s saw the dawn of the Internet Age and the Knowledge Economy — and with it a shift in control. Brands were no longer the only ones talking about their products or services; now consumers had a voice and a platform.

We are now living in The Relationship Economy where the fortunes of successful businesses depend greatly on understanding how to achieve relevance, meaning and value to consumers based on their lifestyle choices. Of note, people have access to unprecedented levels of information, can avoid marketing they don’t want — and form bonds with brands that understand how to become partners and enablers of their personal interests and passions.

On the horizon: we’re at the precipice of the next landscape change, the coming Transformation Economy⁴, where value will be derived from “meaningful living.” This is the time that ethical behaviors, meaningful contributions and purpose become essential ingredients in the recipe for sustainable growth. Thus, Purpose will become a core component of business planning.

That said, we think it’s time to clear the air on what Purpose is, how you cultivate the right Purpose platform and in the end, what Return On Purpose should look like.

1 Capitalizing on the shifting consumer food value equation, Deloitte, FMI and GMA, 2016

2-4 Rethinking value in a changing landscape, Reon Brand and Simona Rocchi, 2011


Download the full piece to discover how to maximize your Return on Purpose (ROP).