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July 2, 2019
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Better turn before it is too late

Meet Leah, Nikhil, Freya, Ruby, Ayakha, Elijah, Adriana and Jamie. These are your new consumers. Do you know them?

By Peter Schmitt


I was in New York for the Soul Purpose conference last weekend, a conference in response to the world’s call for more awakened leaders of high capabilities to apply talents and skills with purpose, positive impact and meaningful contribution. (more about this to come in another article)

The world is experiencing a crisis of meaning and an implosion of trust. Politicians and religious leaders have failed us and the last bastion of responsibility for addressing this lies with business. Yet trust in business is at an all time low. This is reinforced when marketers latch onto a cause that isn’t an expression of an organisation’s real belief system. We see straight through it.

Last year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, noted that expectations on CEOs to speak up and lead change was up to a record high of 65 percent. Their advice was for CEOs to demonstrate new behaviours, to stand for something beyond shareholder returns. To demonstrate care, integrity, transparency and service.

In PWCs 19th annual CEO survey, it was evidenced that customers will increasingly judge companies based on how they help greater society and how they live up to their own values.

Purpose, the true reason for being, must replace profit as our business DNA. For our new and future consumers, contributors (employees) and collaborators, this is non negotiable.

It makes smart business sense. In a survey titled “The Business Case for Purpose”, a team from Harvard Business Review Analytics and professional services firm EY’s Beacon Institute declares “A new leading edge: those companies able to harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage” As much as six times greater shareholder returns are evident of organisations with purpose as an authentic driver.

It just so happened that Lolita Jackson, Special Advisor to the Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs for the Mayor’s Office of NYC opened the Soul Purpose conference at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on the same day that over four million children and young people across the world demonstrated en-mass to demand climate action, with at around 250,000 in New York alone.

Keen to watch the demonstrations unfold, I read an article in the New York Times that moved me, and I had a moment of real clarity that I feel compelled to share.

The article introduces us to Leah, Nikhil, Freya, Ruby, Ayakha, Elijah, Adriana and Jamie. They are teenagers. They are activists. They are your new consumers. And they are seriously influential.

Do you know them?

They don’t live in Kampala, Mumbai, Melbourne, Cape Town, London, La Paz or New York. They are citizens of a real-time, connected, borderless world.

They don’t care about your brand or your marketing message. They care about your truth.

If you authentically stand for humanity, equality, environment, they will possibly buy from you. They may join you and may even talk about you.

If it’s clear to them who you are, and what you stand for.

And if you don’t know who they are, I strongly recommend you research them and others like them, understand them, what’s important to them and apply these insights to your business strategy, metrics and behaviours – not just your brand.

Failure do so may jeopardise your medium to long term business prospects.

Leah, Nikhil, Freya, Ruby, Ayakha, Elijah, Adriana and Jamie care about what you believe, how you behave and how your business lives its belief, without compromise or apology.

I believe it’s a pretty reasonable ask.

The upside is a positive impact to society, the environment and to shareholders.

Building a better long term focused business with real impact makes a brand matter. And it might just make this world a better place.

want more?

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