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Conscious consumers want to support companies that do good. That said, they are increasingly attuned to discerning between brands that pay lip service to purpose and those that walk the talk. A business doing an exemplary job integrating purpose throughout its value chain is Dockers. “Part of leadership is showing that you can achieve profits and principles,” Lauren Johnson, Global Head of Marketing for Dockers, tells We First. “It’s not only what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it.”

The way Dockers does it is by prioritizing people and planet from manufacturing to marketing. In fact, 47% of products sold throughout the world are made using the Water<Less methods. To date, the apparel company that invented Casual Friday’s has saved 3 billion liters of water and recycled 2 billion more. …


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Purpose has become competitive. While there’s a lot of good coming from the cohort of impact-driven businesses, it is increasingly difficult for companies to carve out a competitive advantage while making real change. “There’s an ongoing debate around whether purpose is a statement or an action,” Jean-Laurent Ingles, Executive Vice President of Hair Care at Unilever tells We First. “I think it’s both.”

Across the spectrum of its wide portfolio, Unilever has led by example, showing how a large corporation can be both profitable and purposeful. “If you want to be relevant to society, especially younger generations, that’s what you have to do,” Jean-Laurent says. Unilever takes a multi-stakeholder approach to returns. “You can marry profit delivery with other stakeholder needs like people, planet waste, and climate,” he says. “That’s the guiding philosophy behind how we act. …


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Business leaders that innovate around impact can disrupt categories, gain market share and scale growth. That’s certainly the case for Adam Lowry, the former co founder of Method and is now executive chairman of Ripple Foods. I had the opportunity to speak with him about how he builds and scales companies through a ‘Lead With We’ mindset.

Simon Mainwaring: Why do you launch purposeful businesses?

Adam Lowry: I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. I’ve been racing small sailboats since I was a kid. The interconnectedness of people with nature inspired in me a desire to make those things better.

SM: Did you plan on building one responsible business after another? …


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What influences one company to invest in real impact and another to pay lip service to purpose? “As much as leadership might want to do something, if the capital doesn’t want it to happen, it’s probably not going to,” Sunny Vanderbeck, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Satori Capital tells We First.

While forces like COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter push social issues into cultural discourse, “not a lot has changed,” Vanderbeck says. “You’re just seeing acceleration on the things that were already in play.”

The proposition of any business is to bring value to people’s lives. We’ve become enamored by the power of the media to manipulate people and have lost touch with what matters, adding true value to all lives. …


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Companies built on solving problems foster consumer goodwill and carve out a competitive advantage. An excellent example of a brand that differentiates itself by providing purposeful solutions is Hint. Founder and CEO, Kara Goldin, started the unsweetened flavored water business collecting customer feedback from moms in the school drop off line to selling in America’s largest retailers. The pioneer was recently honored as one of Fortune’s most powerful women entrepreneurs. I had the pleasure of speaking with Goldin about her success story.

Simon Mainwaring: There’s no category more competitive than water. How many people doubted you?

Kara Goldin: Thousands. The biggest challenge when you hear “No” from people is that you have your own doubts. …


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Successful business leaders know when to take calculated risks that can lead to profitable rewards. Innovative companies pioneer uncharted territory in terms of products to gain market share. Purposeful trailblazers push the boundaries around impact to foster goodwill. Brands that lead with us and prioritize their values build movements, loyalty and earned media.

North Face is an excellent example of a brand that’s standing behind its core beliefs. By acting on purpose, the outdoor apparel retailer is driving growth through impact.

“Consumers vote for brands that are purpose led,” Arne Arens, North Face’s Global Brand President, tells We First.


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If humanity is going to manifest a sustainable future, companies must join governments and nonprofits in transforming our economy. While individualized actions are necessary, we need widespread collaboration to truly shift the needle. An important lever to creating an environmentally responsible economy is sustainable packaging.

To advance the entire consumer goods industry, prAna launched the Responsible Packaging Movement. Over the last 10 years, the active wear brand has transformed its own packaging supply chain to minimize the use of plastics and excess wrapping.

“We wanted to give our knowledge, education and experience to brands who are interested in doing the same,” Rachel Lincoln, prAna’s director of sustainability and social compliance, tells We First. …


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Today’s corporate leaders realize that purpose is essential to starting and growing a business. That said, purpose alone won’t make your business successful. It is the integration of impact, quality products, customer service and meaningful storytelling that allows brands to gain a competitive advantage.

A company doing exemplary work marrying purpose and product is Bombas. The direct to consumer apparel brand donates a pair of socks for every pair they sell.

“Socks are the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters,” David Heath, co-founder and CEO of Bombas, tells We First. “It’s a luxury item for over 640,000 people who experience homelessness in the U.S. …


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What makes some businesses grow for centuries and others fail within a year? “It’s all about people,” Richard Graeter, CEO and President of Graeter’s Ice Cream, tells We First. That and selling a great product.

Mr. Graeter’s great grandfather, Louis Charles, started making Ice Cream in 1870, in Cincinnati, Ohio. It wasn’t until Louis’ wife Regina took over the business in 1919, that the company started to scale. …


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Through hard times and good, brands that cultivate meaningful relationships with key stakeholders survive and thrive. That’s the case with youth culture mainstay, Vans.

In 1966, Paul Van Doren started selling vulcanized rubber-soled deck shoes with canvas tops out of a small shop in front of his factory in Anaheim, California. Paul began distributing his deck shoe, known to this day as the “Authentic,” at an affordable price to locally owned retailers in the SoCal region.

It wasn’t until 1974, when a group of salt and sand loving misfits from Santa Monica, California, adopted the shoe, that the business “found its first cultural connection,” Doug Palladini, Global Brand President of Vans, tells We First. …

About

Simon Mainwaring

CEO We First Inc, author NYT's bestseller We First, strategic corporate consultant and trainer, father, Australian, optimist.

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