Speaking at Cannes Lions, the award-winning producer Pharrell Williams touched on something all businesses should always be thinking about.
The social landscape as we know it is changing, primarily because of an increase in consumer preferences towards morality. Millennials aren’t afraid to switch jobs or wait longer to get married until they feel their career echoes their strong sense of ethics, idealism and community. Ethos determines not only where millennials want to work, but also what they want to buy. The young consumers of today aren’t easily fooled – neglecting their expectations will be at your peril: a corporate scandal could go viral at the click of a mouse. Which is why companies like Unilever and PepsiCo have embraced the concept of sustainability as part of their DNA.
Keen to measure up? We apply the '4 Ps' to cater to this altruistically driven group of people. No, not the traditional marketing ‘4 Ps' of price, product, promotion and place. We’ve created our own: purpose, people, product, profit. Having the right purpose should lead to getting the right people who will develop the right product or service, which will eventually lead to profit. It’s simple but remember it must begin with purpose. Here’s how it works:
Is your company sustainable? Are you doing business with companies who share your values? Are you utilizing all your resources responsibly and efficiently? Do you promote a culture of innovation and thought leadership? Is every aspect of your business doing the right thing for the right reason? Remember: sustainability isn’t just about a donation to a charity or corporate volunteering. It isn’t something you can fake. It embodies literally every part of your business and takes a lot of effort to sustain.
The fact that you value sustainability means a lot to the current working generation. Nowhere is this truer than in the Middle East and in our company, Omnicom Media Group MENA, where the average age of our employees is 27. Millennials really do care about our responsibility to our community – apparent by the active participation of our staff in our sustainability and CSR efforts. Being part of something larger than quarterly targets gives our employees a sense of engagement and keeps them motivated and fulfilled.
Having an engaged team leads to a culture of innovation and an improved service offering. Ultimately, this will help establish your company as an indispensable piece of your clients’ winning equation. Additionally, as more clients commit to sustainability, the more they will want to do business with partners who share similar values. All of this will lead to the fourth ‘P’.
This needs little explaining: when you have people who are engaged and motivated, the profit follows shortly. I’ve often advised people trying to make money, to focus on anything but the money: focus on your purpose and everything else will fall into place.
Just remember, being sustainable is no easy task – it’s taken us a lot of trial and error to perfect the winning formula. We’ve recently been accredited by the Global Reporting Initiative, becoming the first marketing communications group in the region to be GRI certified. The certification is a nod to the years of hard work we’ve put into creating a holistic sustainable environment. In a world of rapid change, your greatest competitive advantage is your own core. Pharrell's advice to focus on 'intent' or 'purpose' echoes what early adopters are doing to lead the game - don’t take it lightly.
Millennials certainly don’t.