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Study: More ‘Human’ Companies Outperform Business-As-Usual Competitors

Image credit: Ben Duchac

More evidence has emerged linking business performance with a company's purpose beyond profit. Global customer agency C Space has released a new study, Unlocking Customer-Inspired Growth, detailing how companies can generate consumer inspired growth and describes the behaviors that consumers actively seek from companies, translating them into five distinct customer imperatives matched against company behaviors and providing a blueprint for how a company can act more human.

Consumers are increasingly calling on companies to act on social and environmental issues — and choosing brands that do good over those who continue to follow as a business-as-usual model. According to a recent CSR study by Cone Communications, 87 percent of consumers said they would purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and over 75 percent would boycott a product or brand if the brand supported an issue contrary to their ethics and values. The trend is expected to continue as Millennials and Gen Z put their purchasing power behind sustainable and socially responsible brands.

“Customers determine the fate of companies. And yet, surprisingly few companies are good at building the power of their customers into the ways they work,” said Charles Trevail, CEO of C Space. “Customers want their relationships with companies to have the same qualities they value in their personal relationships — qualities like trust, respect, empathy, openness and reciprocity. In a world where businesses are constantly chasing growth, acting more human will be a sure path to long-term success.”

Unlocking Customer Inspired Growth is based on the results of a ‘Customer Quotient™’ survey, which connects ‘more human’ company relationship behaviors to financial performance. A high CQ score indicates a stronger customer-company relationship and a lower CQ score indicates a weaker one. The survey findings demonstrate that higher CQ scores are associated with greater rates of growth, recommendations and repeat purchases.

Business performance was weighed against five main criteria: consumer experience, emotional rewards, openness, relevance and empathy. REI, Dove, Olay, Royal Caribbean, and L.L. Bean were among the top 15 highest ranking companies. According to C Space, these so-called legacy companies “illustrate the importance of marrying heritage with a commitment to constant innovation.” L.L. Bean and Market Basket received top marks on trust, authenticity and shared values.

However, newer brands’ efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with Amazon’s commitment to consumer experience and Panera Bread’s dedication to health and transparency inspiring considerable customer loyalty. Jet Blue was the top-ranked airline in this year’s CQ study, scoring high on customer experience and empathy — and it’s paying off. Revenue was up in 2016, demonstrating that a brand can humanize their business while bolstering their bottom line.

Finding the right approach takes time and not all efforts will elicit positive responses from all consumers, but C Space’s study suggests that strong brand messages and empathy inspired interactions will ultimately help businesses develop better relationships with their customers and boost both personal satisfaction and financial performance.


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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