Finally, more and more companies recognize that the world has changed. According to Forbes contributor Adrian Swinscoe, customers no longer just buy a product only for its practical benefits; they also buy based on the experience a company delivers, which is mainly influenced by the company’s purpose. The same holds true for talented people searching for a job, who now consider the impact an employer has on the world—and thus what contribution they may make if they become an employee.
In other words, purpose is turning the corporate world on its head. Since the beginning of a new year is a common time to share ideas on how trends will evolve, here are my thoughts on how purpose will change the business world.
Purpose is not a trend. It’s a source for new trends.
Before we begin, let me make something clear: The focus on purpose is not just a new trend that will disappear over time. The strive to search for meaning in the world—and contribute to it—is implemented deep down in our psyche. In an earlier post, I talked about why purpose-driven business works from a psychological perspective. In essence, purpose touches people’s emotions and satisfies their need to identify with something that’s important to them. This combination of emotion and cognitive fulfillment ensures that purpose-driven business will be the biggest source of new trends in the future.
Let’s look at some trends that will rise from the focus on purpose-driven business and will touch a company’s different stakeholders.
A new customer experience
While quite a few companies have started to use their purpose as a powerful anchor for storytelling and advertising, purpose will also create new innovations in the field of customer experience. For example, we may see customer apps that match consumers with companies that share their purpose and ethical concerns. These apps will not only return data on a desired product’s price and quality, but also information on how (and if) the companies that sell that product work toward the consumer’s chosen purpose. Such apps not only enable consumers to search for products based on these personal criteria, but also force companies to make a serious impact toward their purpose, rather than just using it as a branding slogan.
A new employee experience
In earlier posts in this Millennials on Purpose series, my fellow millennial colleagues and I have shared some thoughts on how purpose will impact the employee experience when it comes to employer branding, passion and purpose projects, or purpose-driven leaders. In addition to these cultural impacts on the HR world, I also expect that the mindset of the workforce will change. For example, an underlying principle for adopting an innovation could be whether it is connected to or serves the company’s higher purpose. If the proposed innovation doesn’t serve the company’s purpose, it will likely be rejected, even if it might have become very profitable for the company.
A new shareholder experience
When purpose becomes more important for companies’ success, shareholders and other stakeholders will want to know how a company is doing on this measure. These indices will become as important as sales and earnings to shareholders. For example, a generic purpose index could combine information on how connected employees feel to the company’s purpose, how authentic and purposeful customers perceive a company, and how well a company is delivering on its purpose. Such an index would make clear how purpose-driven (and thus future-proofed) a company really is.
In essence, purpose-driven business is not a trend or hype. It is a source for new innovations, trends, and ideas. It will impact the way companies do business and how we (as customers, employees, or shareholders) assess a product and the company behind it.