What is purpose marketing and how do you apply purpose marketing?




purpose marketing for your company

Consumers are getting smarter. In the past, as a shop you could still get away with nice products or good prices, nowadays branding is increasingly important. Without a strong brand, the consumer will poke through you like this. One trend that goes with this is purpose marketing. But what is purpose marketing really and how can you do purpose marketing yourself? We researched and collected good and bad examples.

What is purpose marketing?

Purpose marketing means exactly what it says: your market is your purpose, your business goal is your added value. Companies that do purpose marketing have a clear goal in mind and use it as a unique selling point. That purpose often has to do with a social purpose. Think of sustainability, equal rights for women or against poverty or slavery. That's purpose marketing in the nutshell.

The reason it has become so popular is that it has a lot of connection with generation Z. This generation cares more about corporate social responsibility and a good world than any generation. As Simon Sineck said in his famous Ted Talk: "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

Examples of purpose marketing


Toms has been active as a shoe manufacturer for many years, with the clear mission: shoes for everyone. When you buy a pair of shoes from Toms, the company ensures that a child can't buy any shoes themselves also receives a pair. How socially responsible is that? The purpose to fight poverty and make poor children happy here is the unique selling point of Toms – and successfully.

Tony's Chocolonely

The only chocolate brand that's truly slave-free. Research has shown that Tony's Chocolonely is the only one that really gives a fair price to the farmers. Here, too, the mission is clear: to make slave-free chocolate, to combat slavery in the food industry. That mission has been characteristic of Tony's Chocolonely since the beginning, and with that they conquer the chocolate industry piece by piece.


Vaseline has been around for a long time, but recently wanted to reposition itself. Then they discovered that Vaseline is widely used in treating skin wounds and blisters in refugee camps. They responded smartly to this by launching a health project. The project was non-profit and focused on the poor.


The electric cars are widely praised for its innovative aspect. But Tesla scores much better in terms of purpose marketing. Sustainability is truly of our time and sustainability is the most important thing for Tesla. Electric cars are much more durable than gas-fired cars, so Tesla is trying to contribute to a less polluted world in this way. A clear goal and very well executed.

For example, purpose marketing should not be


AirBNB broadcast a commercial during the Super Bowl with the message that everyone is accepted. But a little after that, a video went viral, on which a tenant in Amsterdam was pushed down the stairs. That, of course, goes against their message. The images went all over the world and AirBNB suffered enormous image damage. The lesson: make sure you have your purpose clear and go full for it. The purpose here was clear, only the execution less. Much less.


Banks are all trying to take a bite out of the way when it comes to purpose marketing. ASN Bank and Triodos bank have been fighting for charities such as sustainability, acceptance, peace and animal rights for years. Rabobank started with the slogan "Growing a better world together". In itself a very good cause, but the problem is the deception. You can't solve the world food problem as easily as Rabobank suggests. In this case, Rabobank wanted to do purpose marketing so badly that it led to delusions of grandeur. Rabobank cannot deliver on this promise and was therefore sued by the Advertising Code Commission.


Pepsi is a Cola brand but joined the Black Lives Matter protests. With a white influencer, kendall jenner. Of course, none of this is true and the audience quickly poked through it. Pepsi has been heavily criticized on social media. Soon the company withdrew advertising. Here's another thing: Pepsi was too keen to do purpose marketing and missed the mark completely.

Getting started with purpose marketing

With the good and bad examples you already have a bit of an idea what is and isn't right. But to get you started, we've gathered some tips for you to put purpose marketing in good use.

Choose something that suits your brand

As you see with Pepsi, it's important to choose something that suits your brand. Are you selling clothes? Then you can apply purpose marketing to the materials: you only buy sustainable materials that no sweatshops have been used. But it would be crazy if you were going to fight for animal rights while you have leather products. The surf has to be all right and it has to make sense.

Be honest

People poke through it very quickly if something's not right. Don't do purpose marketing just because you think you should. Do it because you're behind it yourself. Be honest in everything you do and also the whys, because the internet makes you fall through the basket very quickly.

Be realistic

If you're a freelance copywriter, it's a very ambitious goal to get equal rights for women. Gender equality is much bigger than you can handle. Be realistic and don't promise things you can't observe. Just look at Rabobank. Bigger than a one-man business, but it's about Rabobank promising something they could never make happen. Don't be like Rabobank.

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