The Business of Family

FAMILY BUSINESS CREATING CHANGE THROUGH DEEP PURPOSE

For many years now, brands have been using cause marketing as a way to ‘give back’. In many cases it’s tacked onto their existing business strategy because it ticks a box customers are expecting, allowing them to – let’s be honest – sell more stuff.

Doing good is no longer optional, it’s a necessity. People are incredibly discerning, looking for heartfelt authenticity and radical transparency. Not the buzzword kind. The really embedded, this is how we do business kind. Customers don’t want to be sold to, they want to be inspired. And every day more people are putting their money where their hearts are. 71% of millennials say they prefer brands that drive social and environmental change. 

It’s not enough anymore to sit back, support a ‘cause’ and wait for them to do good on your behalf. There is a big difference between supporting a cause and being built on a purpose.

And it’s not about choosing between purpose or profit, it’s about purpose and profit. B Corps are leading the way in using business as a force for good. That is, after all, how we are going to create the world we all want to live in. Paying lip service to purpose without real, active commitment is not really going to help anyone. Purpose needs to be built into the business model in order to drive change. It needs to inform all aspects of the business from where it’s going, to how it’s going to get there (including down the supply chain) and of course how it behaves.

A true belief or value should be something you have had to forgo money to live by – wise words shared with us by Anthony Paech of Beerenberg. Companies built on purpose are constantly standing their ground, refusing to compromise, no matter the commercial implications. This sense of deeper purpose is something that shines through with many family businesses we encounter. 

A great example of this is Whole Kids, who state ‘From standing up and campaigning on important issues affecting children’s health, wellbeing and their environment to sourcing ethically and sustainably produced ingredients, we strive to make meaningful, positive impact in everything we do.’ James and Monica Meldrum, founders of Whole Kids, do business on their own terms, standing by their beliefs, no matter how big the opportunity may be they are putting at risk. And what does that do? It drives change in those around them too.

Another purpose-led business doing amazing things is Thinx created by twin sisters Miki and Radha Agrawal. Thinx creates period proof underwear and they are fighting hard for menstrual equity – to make basic hygiene products accessible to everyone. They are also campaigning for better access to puberty education, speaking out against discriminatory policies and advocating for inclusivity and gender equality.

And to top it all off it’s better for the bottom line too. Nearly half of Unilever’s top 40 brands have a sustainability focus. And those brands are growing 50% faster than the other brands. Addressing the Deutsche Bank conference, Unilever CEO, Alan Jope, said: “Two-thirds of consumers around the world say they choose brands because of their stand on social issues.”

Shifting to a purpose driven business is not something that happens overnight, it’s a journey. But a journey we all need to shift gears on – hopefully with more and more family businesses leading the way.

Words: Jodie de Vries
Photography: Monique Easton, Lauren Bamford, @shethinx

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