The Place of Purpose in the Store of the Future


According to a new study by Accenture, 47% of consumers will leave brands that lack a purpose. And, no, making gobs of money doesn’t count! So, think about your purpose when designing your Store of the Future.

What is “purpose” exactly?

According to Miriam Webster, a purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists” – which is counter to the consumer-focused ‘purpose.’ Because, making money is exactly why you’re in business!

Perhaps a better definition for the ‘purpose’ our conversation is, “The why under the why.” (See what we did there? Bah dum pah!)

Yes, you get up each day to make money, but why? Are you committing a portion of your proceeds to environmental sustainability? Are you actively sourcing Fair-Trade Certified products? Do you get involved in community improvement efforts?

In short - what does your company do to support and champion the greater good?

Is this a Millennial thing?

Yes and no. Millennials are changing the way retailers do business, but it’s bigger than that. It’s a people thing. In the Accenture study, nearly “two-thirds of people surveyed said they prefer to buy goods from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs.”

I donate time and money – why should I talk about it?

Because your customers want connection and charity is a great way to foster an emotional spark.

Purpose is more than a list of charitable donations. There’s a story behind the investment – whether time or money. When brands communicate this purpose, it’s easier for consumers to have a “YES!” moment. And when that happens, they automatically become a fan with deep loyalty.

Of course, your industry also plays an important part in the effectiveness of your message. Yes, it’s nice if a shoe store supports water cleanliness and conservation efforts. But, it’s even more powerful when a detergent company does. See the difference?

So, how do I choose my charity?

Start at home – because geography matters. Look around your neighborhood/state to find local agencies that are in common-sense alignment with your business. For example, a furniture builder might want to work with someone working to rebuild forests and/or create environmentally responsible lumber resources or get their building supplies from reclaimed materials.

Of course, if you’re an interior designer, an opportunity may not so readily present itself. You may have to get industrious and create your own place of service – like volunteering design time to create more suitable interiors for veterans returning home with PTSD.

Whatever you choose, it should be of authentic interest and easy to communicate why you chose to become involved.

Then, get to work!

Does my mission have to include my entire company?

Not necessarily. Amber Engine offers volunteer opportunities for our employees to be active in their neighborhoods because we are passionate about supporting our community - Detroit, Michigan. But you don’t necessarily have to get individual employees involved – especially if your mission is sourcing all products via Fair Trade. It doesn’t make sense for your top-performing sales person to come off the floor to look up product origins.

At the end of the day, your consumers are most interested in your authentic pursuit of your passions. And when those preferences and positions align with theirs, they’re more likely to do business with you. Just don’t try to be everything to everyone – because you’ll end up watering down your message. Stick with one or two amazing efforts and let the chips (and opinions) fall where they may.