Introducing Purpose Perception: Porter Novelli's Implicit Association Study

Feb 18, 2021 9:00 AM ET

Introducing Purpose Perception: Porter Novelli’s Implicit Association Study

Purpose is more than a marketing tactic; it’s much more than a term thrown around at conferences. It is something that is so deeply embedded into our experience with and perception of a brand that it becomes a feeling. We can’t see it and sometimes we can’t even articulate it, but we know it’s there. Purpose is complex and deep, and it’s more emotional than it is rational. And, at the heart of Purpose is the complex truth that consumers overwhelmingly gravitate toward it.

How do we know this?

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Purpose Perception: Porter Novelli’s 2021 Implicit Association Study. The study harnesses the power of social psychology and a research methodology called Implicit Association Testing (IAT) to uncover our automatic, intuitive perceptions of brands. This research adds another layer to the business case for Purpose — and the importance of strong storytelling to complement successful business strategies.

Key findings include:

  • Purpose creates stronger mental connections: When evaluating brands, respondents made higher (aka faster) associations between brands and Purpose attributes versus functional attributes, suggesting when consumers store information about brands, they make stronger mental connections with Purpose words.
  • Purpose brand attributes trigger beneficial action: Test respondents were more likely to indicate Purpose as the motivator for behaviors including deciding which brands to trust, work for, be loyal to and, ultimately, form deeper connections with. This reinforces that Purpose can act as a signal to consumers to engage with a brand in myriad ways.
  • Purpose drives purchase and impulse: In a grab-and-go situation, Purpose prevails. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they consider a company’s Purpose when making purchasing decisions, and 62 percent said a company’s Purpose is an important factor when making a quick or impulse purchase. This shows that Purpose is a differentiator not only on the shelves, but in a brand’s overall perception.

Visit our Findings page to download the full study.