In the marketing universe, “Purpose” is everywhere.  Like some kind of wildfire spreading through the empty promises of bandwagon campaignery, it became fashionable, almost de rigeur, to declare some noble crusade to save the planet as the best way to recruit reluctant employees or eke out a few points of margin or revenue growth from the closing purses of debt-burdened consumers.  

When the oracle of sage management spoke, in the form of the redoubtable Harvard Business Review, and published “The Business Case for Purpose” in late 2015, the game was most certainly afoot and with Holmesian precision and Watsonian enthusiasm, advertising and employee value propositions grew thick with purpose branding. 

Like the parched mariner who attempts to slake his thirst on the abundant sea-water, much of the marketing universe completely missed the point. Consumers and employees are not asking for a business case for purpose (that delivers more tidy revenue). They are demanding a “purpose case” for the very existence of business. Slowly but surely, they are getting it, and not just from the startup and social-enterprise crowd. Even large, traditional businesses that are notoriously hard to shift can and are adapting with surprising and even encouraging outcomes.  In For Goodness’ Sake: satisfy the hunger for meaningful business, you’ll see how businesses can respond to this new demand.

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