Future of brands: The power of purpose, by Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group’s Alyza Beg

By Alyza Beg, group head, corporate affairs, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group.

A new generation of influencers has created a movement for social impact and positive change. Members of Gen Z – people born from 1995 to 2010 – are true digital natives. Being the only generation that has been exposed to the internet from birth, it’s no surprise they conduct thorough research from multiple sources before making a decision. Why is this important for brands all over the world? Although Gen Z account for 20 per cent of global consumers, they influence 70 per cent of purchases made by members of their family.   

Young people have a significant impact on how all of us consume and relate to brands. They believe in the power of individuals to create change. They embrace personal responsibility and this is evident in their approach to everything from the pandemic to social causes. Gender parity, sustainable consumption and social equality impact their purchasing choices. 

This approach has real ramifications for brands and organisations. It is transforming the consumer landscape across all socioeconomic brackets and extends beyond Gen Z, permeating the whole demographic pyramid. Businesses must rethink how they deliver value to the consumer, rebalance mass production and most importantly, walk the talk within marketing and communications. 

Brands with purpose for people and the planet are more likely to financially outperform competition. Analysis over a twelve-year period from BrandZ, the world’s largest brand equity database, revealed companies focused on purpose beyond profit grew more than twice as fast as those that primarily cared about financial gain.  

As buying behaviour shifts, power rests in the hands of well-informed consumers who consider the impact of their purchases beyond a commercial transaction. They want to know the story behind a company and its people – the kind of detail that goes beyond an organisation’s vision and mission statements. Generic words such as respect, teamwork and innovation don’t provide much insight into a company’s core. Consumers want brands to reflect their ideals and often put their wallets where their values are. Increasingly, they are not hesitant to stop or initiate relationships based on how companies treat the environment and position themselves on social issues.  

As part of our commitment to the environment, the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG) has established an energy savings company, which focuses on various internal and external initiatives within the framework of sustainability.  Substantial investments have also been made by the Group to harness solar energy within our projects.  

The sustainability ethos also extends to the type of brands we partner with.  Interface, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flooring products and ESAG’s key brand partner, has launched Net-Works which impacts the three dimensions of performance: social, environmental and financial. Net-Works is a cross-sector initiative designed to tackle the growing environmental problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities. At the same time, it supports Interface’s Mission Zero goal to source 100% recycled material for its carpet tiles.  Through its partnership with the Zoological Society of London, Interface buys fishing nets from some of the poorest communities in the world. The nets are recycled into new yarn for carpet tiles. The partnership has created an inclusive business model with positive outcomes for everyone involved.  

With Covid bringing life to a virtual standstill and students unable to attend school, the ESAG Charity Foundation contributed AED 3 million to support creating the infrastructure needed for distance learning. The Group also donated AED 10 million to the Dubai Health Authority for the city’s fight against Covid. 

Creating a work environment of inclusiveness is important to attract the right talent. Young individuals are increasingly seeking employment opportunities with companies that reflect their values. Looking after our employees is fundamental to ESAG’s business and brand strategy. This extends beyond classroom training and developing skill sets. We want our employees to be of healthy body and mind so they are best able to connect with and serve our customers. The long term impact of Covid will surface with time. However, it is also clear the short term effect is also damaging. To counter any such negative influence, we have launched Enaya, a platform that provides confidential psychological and emotional counselling along with mental health support for our 3000 strong workforce and their families. 

The power of purpose is defining the way people purchase. Brands aspiring to grow have to consider the importance of ethics, sustainability, wellbeing and socially transformative business practices. These are essential to expanding brand prominence as well as gaining and retaining customer loyalty.