Having a clearly defined purpose that goes beyond generating shareholder profits is essential to thriving in today’s market. Consumers actively support brands that share their beliefs. Plus, purpose provides an insightful compass to navigate brand strategy and business decisions. Companies that lead with purpose are better prepared for changing market conditions and build their brand while distinguishing themselves from the competition.
An excellent example of a brand that leverages purpose to define corporate strategy is VSP Global. The optical health company’s vision is to “provide access to affordable, high-quality eye care and eyewear to the world.” This purpose-driven goal guides business development, branding, product innovation and other integral operations.
Adherent to VSP Global’s mission, the doctor-governed organization is divided into 5 businesses: “ eye care insurance, high-quality eyewear, lens and lens enhancements, ophthalmic technology, and connected experiences to strengthen the relationship between patients and their eye doctors.”
VSP Global also utilizes its expertise for charitable giving via its Eyes of Hope charitable platform, which has provided no-cost eyewear and eye care for individuals in need by partnering with their network of eye doctors across the country. VSP Global’s mission-based business decision making offers valuable insights for brands looking to lead with purpose.
Here’s how VSP Global weaves purpose into business strategy
Marry purpose with business growth:
One of VSP Global’s subsidiaries is VSP Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit company that delivers value to their customers through access to quality eye care and affordable eyewear. The social enterprise reinvests profits into products, programs and services that increase the value of vision benefits, extends access to care and strengthens the connection between patients and their eye doctor.
In a recent development, VSP Vision Care augmented its VSP EasyOptions feature, which will now be available to smaller companies of 50 or more team members. VSP EasyOptions allows flexibility for members — and their family members — to personalize their eye care coverage on the spot after receiving a comprehensive exam from their eye care provider. By expanding the offering, which was previously reserved for larger corporations, VSP will now provide more personalized access to a larger number of people, advancing both its mission and bottom line.
Ultimately, by using your purposeful mission to guide business goals you can gain clarity, expand your network and grow your business.
Purposeful product innovation: VSP Global utilizes its mission to provide “high quality eye care and eyewear to the world” to inspire new products and services that meet consumer needs and progress patient health.
A recent noteworthy product that combines technology with social impact is VSP Global’s Level smart glasses. In these stylish frames, VSP Global has incorporated sensors that track physical activity such as steps walked, calories burned and distance traveled. What’s more, users are awarded points for meeting daily activity goals, which can be used to trigger a charitable donation from VSP Global on their behalf.
Essentially, the eyewear company is incentivizing people to get more exercise by motivating them with the possibility of making a positive contribution. By putting consumers at the center of your social impact initiatives, you strengthen emotional connections with your customer base.
Apply expertise to impact: Eye care and eyewear can be prohibitively expensive. VSP Global’s mission is to ensure everyone in the world has the gift of clear eyesight, not only those who can pay for it. Through Eyes of Hope, VSP Global is able to enrich the lives of millions of people who wouldn’t be able to afford eye care.
In collaboration with 8,500 in-network doctors, as well as partner organizations, Eyes of Hope has assisted over two million individuals in gaining access to eye exams and glasses and has recently committed to aiding one million more people by 2020.
An example of an Eyes of Hope initiative was the We See, A Child Eye Health Project in Soweto, South Africa. Eyes of Hope partnered with the Brien Holden Vision Institute and local government agencies to create a program aimed to integrate child eye health into the school health and education policies, including the creation of an optical health clinic within the Nike Football Training Centre. The results: over a three-year period, 95,000 local children received eye screenings, nearly 2,500 prescription glasses were allocated yielding transformative results and the program was successfully integrated into an existing health care infrastructure run by the Gauteng Department of Health — ensuring sustainability.
Ultimately, by leveraging your core capabilities to fulfill your social mission, you can scale your impact, create partnerships, gain earned media and expand the reach of your brand.
Strategic partnerships: Partnerships are critical to scaling your business, impact and staying ahead of the curve. In 2017, VSP Global made a strategic investment in RightEye, an eye-tracking technology that uses game-based vision tests to reveal details on visual speed and accuracy, processing depth perception, and even dry eye. For optometry, RightEye can then further strengthen the relationship between patients and their eye doctors by underscoring the links between vision and overall brain health and even sports performance. Ultimately, VSP Global’s mission drives partnership decisions that can expand their capability to provide stellar eye care to everyone in the world.
The key takeaway is that clarifying your purpose-driven mission will give you clarity on all aspects of business decision making. In other words, be a mission with a company, not a company with a mission. Not only will you expand partnership opportunities, gain consumer goodwill and earned media, but you will also increase your bottom line in the long run and be an integral part of building a better world.