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The Evolution of “Purpose”: From Today’s Most Passionate Changemakers


Still a buzzword in some organisations and a marketing ploy for others. But it’s a very real and measurable part of our agency’s DNA. And more importantly, it’s a mission that brands need to take more seriously now, more than ever.  

People today, especially younger generations like Gen Z, have a desire to make a tangible impact on the world. They align themselves with communities and brands that advocate for change in the same ways that they do – but, of course, we know that the expectation for businesses goes far beyond just advocating. From our own proprietary research on Gen Z, we know that they are passionate disruptors and they deeply believe they have the power to affect change in their countries. A whopping 83% of them believe this. They consciously make decisions about where to purchase from and what brands they deem worthy to engage with, all based on whether brands are in line with their own values. This also trickles into their working lives – Gen Zs value ethics in the companies they work for as much as their personal values, and they’re not willing to compromise on them for money. 42% of Gen Z would rather be at a company with a purpose than one that pays more

So, what does this really mean for brands? Not just Gen Z (whose spending power in the US alone represents $305 billion), but many generations are holding brands to new standards, making brands accountable for social and environmental responsibility. In this landscape, to create real, enduring brand affinity and remain in the front of consumers' minds, brands must contribute meaningfully and with measurable action. In other words, make Purpose much more than just a buzzword. 

To put this in perspective at a deeper level, we spoke to Gen Z employees across the Assembly business to hear their own definitions of Purpose and the ways they’d like to see businesses evolving to reflect it:

“To me, Purpose is what helps get me up in the morning – it’s a sort of internal push that motivates me to do something good in the world every day, no matter how big or small. Sustainability is a huge issue today that weighs in on my mind, so I try to find ways to reduce my environmental impact. For example, I bring a reusable coffee cup with me whenever I go out for coffee to help decrease the amount of waste I produce. Additionally, I buy second-hand clothing from Depop/Vinted or go charity shopping as a sustainable solution to buying clothes. By incorporating these actions into my life, it makes me feel good knowing that I am doing my part to help save the environment.” 
- Alexandra Marshall, Trainee Display Executive, Assembly

“Every business has the ability to positively impact the world around them, from donating a percentage of profits to charity, to changing how they operate to become carbon negative, or running free classes for people to learn from them. People are far more aware of spammy ads and shallow business motivations, so it’s naturally become harder to connect with a brand.

The business world has realised one key thing in the past decade or so: doing good for others often means doing well for themselves. Whilst profits are crucial, business has become more than money. It's who you are, why you do it, and how you improve the lives around you.

Purpose isn’t another box to tick. It’s a foundation to build upon. The companies who have a genuine, selfless purpose to help others are already winning, because the world will recognise this purpose, resonate with it, and ultimately connect with it.”
- Oliver Bridgman, Paid Social Executive, Assembly

“To rise to their purpose, companies should be pushing towards achieving what they say their purpose is. Whether it’s to create a comfortable workplace, or drive in great results, or contributing to sustainability, being proactive in achieving your purpose shows that you believe in it and are rising to it!”
-Lydia Croft, Digital Marketing Apprentice, Assembly 

Our Global Head of Impact, Gaby Sethi, also weighed in on the evolution of Purpose:

“Like many businesses, we’re on a journey to redefine what Purpose means within our organization. Purpose is a big, all-encompassing concept, and it can and should exist in many places. But the environmental and social issues our world faces today are real, so it’s never been more important for businesses to hone how they can use our unique influence and perspective – in our case, as marketers, to drive progressive change in our clients’ work, and also build a work environment that enables our people to connect with Purpose in ways that are meaningful to them.”

Download Assembly’s newest report: Gen Z Decoded for Brand Growth.

Read more about Assembly’s journey to becoming Ad Age’s Purpose-Led Agency of the Year.



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