The Purpose Purchase Gap

Posted by Jane Mitchell on

65% of people say they plan to support sustainable brands - so, why aren't they doing it.

A recent Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose study shows that:
78% of Americans believe companies must do more than just make money; they must positively impact society as well.
77% feel a stronger emotional connection to Purpose-driven companies over traditional companies.
66% would switch from a product they typically buy, to a new product from a Purpose-driven company.

This is great news for those of us in companies that are focused on purpose and are trying to make a difference in how people purchase.
However, a related story in the Harvard Business Review* tells a different story.  While 65% of people say they support sustainable companies, only 26% actually follow through with their purchase. The article gives 5 suggestions to change behavior and narrow this intention gap.

1. Use Social influence - social norms related to being part of a community or social group.  If you see your neighbor installing solar panels, you are much more likely to do so yourself.
2. Shape good habits - make sure you are triggering cues that lead to the desired behavior.  One simple way is to make sustainable behavior the default.
3. Leverage the domino effect.  We know that once people take on one sustainable behavior, they are likely to take another action that is also sustainable.  Small steps can lead to greater change.
4. Decide whether to talk to the heart or to the brain. Decide whether you are going to make an emotional appeal or a rational appeal.
5. Encourage experiences over ownership.  Find ways to offer experiences over 'stuff'.

*Harvard Business Review July-August 2019. The Elusive Green Consumer by: Katherine White, Professor, Sauder School of Business, David J. Hardisty, Assistant professor, Sauder School of Business, Rishad Habib, PhD candidate, Sauder School of Business.

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