The 5th P in Marketing: Purpose

Tony Winslow, Marketing Manager at Cengage

The “4 Ps of Marketing” (product, price, location, and promotion strategy) have been the foundations for industry thinking and introductory marketing courses for the past 60 years. While other Ps such as people or processes have tried to be added, the original 4 have remained the foundation.
I propose a new foundational p – a p that impacts, sometimes uproots, the original four Ps. It transcends customer-centricity, corporate social responsibility, and echoing cultural sentiments to make you look good. The fifth P of marketing is purpose.
Marketers can’t ignore the importance of purpose
Fuse Marketing claims that over 90% of millennials will “switch to one brand to the other because it champions an cause.” Fuse Marketing states that Gen Z uses a “purpose filter to choose which companies to support. Consumers expect brands that speak out against injustice, encourage mindful behavior, and join us in creating change.
Seth Godin said that marketing is “the most powerful force available for people who want to make changes.” This statement is not exaggerated when viewed in the context of business’ impact on social change. Marketers have a responsibility in a world that is suffering from racial injustice, pandemics, and human trafficking.
How does purpose get manifested?
If your purpose is just an addendum to your mission or a way to donate money and tweet about it, you are doing it wrong. Purpose isn’t about reacting to the world around you. It’s about setting guiding beliefs that will shape your entire organization. Some organizations embed purpose in their business model (what Cengage authors call a “Strategic Philanthropy Approach”)
Warby Parker: “Buy one pair, give one.”
Carabello Coffee: “Coffee, compassion in tandem”
Aruna Project: “Shop to her freedom”
Other organizations have purpose embedded in their culture and values statements. Therefore, product strategy and marketing messaging must reflect this purpose.
P&G “improves the lives of more consumers in small but meaningful ways every day”
REI encourages you to #OptOutside
Peloton has moved from a product-focused promotion to one that focuses on their members
Dove wants #beautybias to be overcome
Coca-Cola wants “to refresh the world and make an impact”
No matter what your purpose, your brand must say the same thing as your brand. To build consumer trust, authenticity is essential. Coke’s social distancing message was displayed in Times Square. It was authentic and in line with their purpose-driven story. However, McDonald’s faced backlash after separating their golden arches.

A shift in mindset is required to achieve your purpose.
Marketers, instructors, and students have a challenge: Infuse purpose into your marketing plans in order to impact the other 4 Ps. Is your organization clear on its purpose? What core competencies are necessary to support your purpose? How can you improve them to have a greater impact on the world around you?
Let’s make purpose stick!

You would like to look through course materials and other useful content in your Marketing class?