During the Advertising Week panel, “Marketing with Purpose,” Kya Sainsbury-Carter, vice president, global partner service, Microsoft Advertising, announced the company’s new “Marketing with Purpose Playbook.” At a time when people’s expectations of brands are in a state of constant flux, the guide aims to help marketers reimagine the brand experience through purpose and people, proven catalysts for trust, loyalty and brand performance.

Companies that lead with purpose are more trusted and loved. In fact, 85 percent of consumers say they’ll only buy from a brand they trust, according to a study from Microsoft Advertising and LRW Research, “Uncovering the Trust Drivers 2019.”

The key drivers of trust are responsibility, values and inclusion, Sainsbury-Carter notes. Consumers expect brands to protect their personal information, be honest about how their data is being used, support ethical practices, take an explicit stand on social issues and proactively solve issues if products or services don’t work.

But above all, the important attribute of consumer trust and loyalty is being genuine and authentic. Seventy-two percent of respondents are more likely to support brands that are authentic in their advertising, according to Microsoft Advertising’s, “The Psychology of Inclusion and the Effects in Advertising 2020.”

Inclusion in advertising is a prerequisite for authenticity. Ensuring people feel seen, heard and understood enables brands to naturally weave purpose into their strategies. For example, 63 percent of consumers say brands representing inclusivity in ads are more authentic and 64 percent consider them more trustworthy.

In addition to boosting a brand’s authenticity, inclusion in advertising drives purchase intent and increases a consumer’s likelihood to recommend. As a case study, Microsoft Advertising asked consumers to rank a variety of Tommy Hilfiger ads based on level of inclusivity. Thereafter Microsoft mapped that to purchase intent. Upon closer look, what they found is that the ad featuring a model in a wheelchair and a black model beat the non-inclusive ads with a 28 percent lift.

For a brand to genuinely become more inclusive, Sainsbury-Carter notes that marketers must shift their focus from being product-centric to people-centric. This requires long-term strategies meant to build trust and inspire customer advocacy but also equitable experiences, not merely compliance.

One brand that has successfully strengthened its commitment to purpose in recent years is Crocs. In March, the brand launched “A Free Pair for Healthcare,” a program that gave healthcare workers a free pair of Crocs, plus free shipping, through its website. Since launching the initiative, Crocs has given away 860,000 pairs of its Crocs Classic Clogs, valued at over $40 million in retail. 

In Q2, Crocs’ global revenues were $331.5 million, declining 7.6 percent from Q2 2019. The brand’s global ecommerce revenues saw 67.7 percent growth.

“Inclusion is not just a marketing campaign at Crocs. It is in everything we do. It is how we treat each other as employees and how we come to life every single day with our consumers and fans around the world. We like to think of them as a global tapestry and we love to celebrate what makes them all unique,” says Heidi Cooley, head of global marketing at Crocs.