As readers of this blog know, I have a particularly fondness for purposeful brands, that is, brands who are sustainable and socially responsible. This can come from many things from how they source their ingredients/materials to how they treat their employees and customers to causes they authentically align themselves and beyond.
Think Patagonia and their Don’t Buy Their Jacket campaign and their Common Threads Initiative. Was it a completely altruistic initiative? No. At the end of the day they want the sales, but it how they go about it that counts. I recently learned about another example of which you may not be aware. Nokia. Nokia has been in the top 5 on Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics for the last four years. But well beyond that, they developed a real-time text initiative for third-world farmers that allows them to check market prices. The idea is that each morning, a farmer can easily ping this network to know what prices his particular crop is selling for in nearby markets, so he can price his supply accordingly. All of this takes place via the tech-simple SMS message. Why is Nokia doing this? In the words of a Nokia exec I recently heard speak at Social Media Week, they do it because it is the right thing to do. Very powerful stuff.
So today, when I had the chance to speak with Joey Bergstein, CMO of Seventh Generation, I was particularly excited. I hope you forgive my nervousness on the audio as I was filling in for Brian. Our conversation was about much more than just purpose of course. Like many of our previous guests, Joey started his career at Procter & Gamble and grew is various roles in Canada, Europe and the U.S. across multiple brands. For Joey, his time at P&G taught him how to build and manage a brand. Obviously key skills for any marketers. When I asked him how he thought the role of brand manager had changed (and I am thinking back to our conversation with Dave Knox of The Brandery and also a former P&Ger), Joey shared:
The role of Brand Managers haven’t changed per se, but the tools have changed. Successful brands managers are universal soldiers.
We also spoke about how in this consumer-driven world that shoppers are essentially looking for everything. That is, they want value for their dollar, but they also want to find a brand that resonates with their lifestyle. This insight becomes particularly important for niche brands like Seventh Generation. I asked Joey what his strategy was for competing with larger, household brands with large budgets. His answer surprised me. They don’t really compete with those brands. Why? Seventh Generation appeals to a specific kind of customer. It seems to be in many ways, that makes a marketer’s job easier. There is no breaking through the clutter when the customer is seeking you out.
Lastly, I had to ask Joey about Rance Crain’s recent Ad Age piece Is the Era of Purpose-Driven Ads (Finally) Over? Joey’s answer was simple. If the brand attaches itself to a cause as a selling gimmick, consumers will suss that out and it will fail. If it is a genuine initiative to do business differently, the story and the opportunity changes significantly.
To hear more of Joey’s insights, tune in below.
[Lead Image via Tagxedo]