INSIGHT

The value of values in a disrupted world

Billion dollar guru discovers

Who would have thought a ‘mindful’ consumer goods company selling cow pee soap would have multinationals sitting up and taking notice?

Enter disruptive Indian brand, Patanjali, which has done just that thanks to its vast range of natural products. Originally focussed on traditional Ayurvedic remedies, it has branched out to everything from cornflakes and toothpaste to a range of goods containing bovine urine – a nod to the company’s Hindu heritage.

Surge of interest

Sales have increased tenfold in just four years, prompting a surge of interest in the face of the brand, real-life guru Baba Ramdev. With his trademark beard and saffron robes, he makes a refreshing change to conventional marketing icons like the leggy Flake Girl or the polo neck-wearing Milk Tray Man.

As The Economist reports, “Multinational and local rivals at first behaved as if Patanjali did not exist. But after its herbal toothpaste won a dedicated following, in 2015 Colgate launched an offer aimed at Patanjali…Unilever has a range of Ayurvedic shampoos. Nestlé added 25 products across food categories to ward off the beaming guru.”

Businesses that "give back"

The same thing is happening closer to home. Increasingly savvy consumers are opting for brands with a social or ecological conscience that in turn disrupt markets traditionally dominated by less ideological corporates.

In recognition of the increasing importance for businesses to ‘give back’, Virgin Media Business’s VOOM 2016 competition featured the Impact Award. The gong was won by Lee Cole, founder of recycled paint firm Paint360, whose prize included a trip to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island.

Know your story

The trend for enterprises to do things differently is perhaps most obvious among startups: think of Airbnb’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ campaign. Not content with comprehensively disrupting the market for holiday accommodation, Airbnb promotes the idea of a world where all are welcomed, regardless of race, colour or faith.

The firm paid for a 30-second ad during this year’s Super Bowl, and committed to donating $4m (£3.1m) to the International Rescue Committee as well as providing temporary homes for 100,000 people in need.

As noted in The Drum, “Airbnb is a good example of a brand that knows its own story. Its narrative is, essentially this: with Airbnb, any traveller can belong anywhere, as opposed to being an automatic outsider, a tourist. This narrative is used to make the brand both personally and culturally compelling.”

Here on Insights, we featured a four-part series examining the benefits of startup culture, from its matrix structures to intrapreneurism. Perhaps now we should consider a fifth instalment, on the value of embedding values in corporate DNA.

Sustainablebrands.com notes that, “Every brand must find its own path if it wants to connect with humanity in an authentic and meaningful way.” Writer Liz Courtney goes on to cite not only Airbnb but KIND snacks and Google as examples of corporates that have done this particularly well. Her final rallying cry rings true: “Brands, the time is now for you to step up and create positive change in the world — those who don’t risk being left behind.”

It gets even better. Unlike traditional telecommunications services, Cloud Voice operates on a licence-based model, so you pay a fixed monthly fee based on your usage – there are no nasty surprises.

Moving telephony and call handling to a single, hosted, managed network makes it easier to predict budgets. And that’s the kind of freedom that allows you to grow, disrupt, surprise and thrive.

Tim says, “We’re creating cost certainty for businesses on their telecoms spend. Previously an organisation would have to buy a PBX regardless of whether they had 200 employees or 2000. With the scale and agility of a cloud-based PBX, a business only needs to buy as many licences as it has employees. It’s easy to scale up or down, so you can respond quickly to the unexpected.”

Products that chime with beliefs

Over at Fortune.com, writer Erin Griffith contends that startup culture “is more than just ping pong tables and coldbrew on tap”. In fact, “‘values’ are more than just ‘make the world a better place’”.

Indeed values can seriously impact profits. Realbusiness.co.uk reports that a poll of 2000 respondents by MediaCom found 40% of consumers have stopped using, or have avoided using a brand because of lacking corporate values. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 60% of 18 to 24-year-olds would pay more for a product that chimes with their beliefs. That’s compared to 49% of the population in general.

It gets even better. Unlike traditional telecommunications services, Cloud Voice operates on a licence-based model, so you pay a fixed monthly fee based on your usage – there are no nasty surprises.

Moving telephony and call handling to a single, hosted, managed network makes it easier to predict budgets. And that’s the kind of freedom that allows you to grow, disrupt, surprise and thrive.

Tim says, “We’re creating cost certainty for businesses on their telecoms spend. Previously an organisation would have to buy a PBX regardless of whether they had 200 employees or 2000. With the scale and agility of a cloud-based PBX, a business only needs to buy as many licences as it has employees. It’s easy to scale up or down, so you can respond quickly to the unexpected.”

Don't fake it to make it

Clearly there is value in values, but the MediaCon survey should also serve as a warning. Journalist Zen Torrelonge writes, “Some 65% of respondents feel that brands exaggerate environmental endeavours and 45% admitted they have doubts about firms that claim to back campaigns for good.”

So while the benefits of values are clear, in a marketplace of ideological consumers, faking or exaggerating a corporate conscience could prove counterproductive. And you don’t need a guru to tell you that.Tim says, “We’re creating cost certainty for businesses on their telecoms spend. Previously an organisation would have to buy a PBX regardless of whether they had 200 employees or 2000. With the scale and agility of a cloud-based PBX, a business only needs to buy as many licences as it has employees. It’s easy to scale up or down, so you can respond quickly to the unexpected.”

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