Engaging Customers through Purpose

There is a never-ending list of strategies for companies to engage customers. Be communicative. Be funny. Humanize your brand. Offer great customer service…

Those are all good strategies, of course. But those strategies may not be as effective in keeping customers engaged with a brand in the long-term. Customers need to connect with companies on a deeper level in order to remain engaged customers. They need to move from liking a company to believing in the company – and this is done by engaging customers on a purpose-level.

Because connecting with customers about purpose is easier said than done, this is a key focus of our conference. One of the tracks at SB’17 Madrid is dedicated to the discussion of engaging customers through purpose. Here is an example of three companies who will be sharing their purpose-focused customer strategy with us:


Timberland has the goal of becoming the largest, most sustainable outdoor brand in the world, it is this very goal that has allowed Timberland to engage customers with several years of stagnant sales. In addition to refocusing their marketing and zeroing in on a more urban demographic, Timberland also increased communications about their sustainability commitments. They set bold goals and continually communicate those goals with the customers, letting customers know what impact their purchases have on the planet. This level of commitment and transparency attracts customers and increases loyalty.


Unilever is a widely respected in leader in sustainability, but one of the important factors in their success is that the company has also learned how to communicate that purpose to consumers. They identify “Sustainable Living” brands among their larger portfolio, which are brands that are working towards sustainable products and also encouraging customers to live more sustainable lives themselves. Many of their leading brands are classified as sustainable living brands: Dove, in its focus on encouraging self-esteem and Lipton, in its commitment to using Rainforest Alliance Certified tea and supporting farmer livelihoods are just a few examples. And, of course, their customer-oriented Project Sunlight is a key example of how to engage customers through brand purpose. With all of these brands and projects, Unilever intentionally inspires customers and invites them to join in the brand journey.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is a Unilever-owned brand, but the ice cream company is so good at purpose-driven engagement that it deserves its own discussion here. The company was founded with social purpose at its core, and it has done a magnificent job of maintaining that purpose as it has grown. Specific campaigns supporting issues like social inclusion, GMO labeling and climate change have turned customers into loyal brand advocates. On all of these issues, what sets Ben & Jerry’s apart is their willingness to take a bold stance. Its status as a certified B Corp serves as additional proof for customers of its commitment to its founding purpose.

At SB’17 Madrid, we will be joined from leaders from all of these companies to share their strategies and learnings. Francisco Prat, Unilever’s Marketing Director for Foods & Aurelie Dumont, Sustainability Senior Manager EMEA at Timberland will join a panel discussion called “Aligning SDGs with Brand Strategy, Innovation, Customer and Employee Engagement.” Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission Activism Manager Christopher Miller will also join us to share about his company’s success in “How to become a Brand Activist». You won’t want to miss hearing from these industry leaders!

Register for SB’17 Madrid today and learn more about how to engage customers through purpose.

Cambria Hayashino is a marketing and communications professional living in Madrid. She is currently completing her Master’s in Corporate Communications at IE Business School in Madrid. In her free time, she enjoys reading, eating good food and exploring Madrid.


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