Creating Purpose-Driven Brand Trust for Sustainable Futures

By Jasneet Kaur Chahal

Purpose-Driven Brand Trust

In this age of “conscious consumerism,” trust has become a significant factor in shaping consumer habits. Consumers today seek more transparency and authenticity when buying sustainable products and services. This research blog explores the significance of purpose-driven brand trust in empowering sustainable consumer choices. By understanding how trust is built and nurtured, businesses can effectively engage with consumers and drive positive change toward a more sustainable future.

“Because of the challenge for people’s attention, purpose is the only thing that will get brands to break through. This is not a trend but more of an imperative and should be top of mind for every company.”

– Matthew Gardner, director of brand influence at Droga5

Based on a study conducted by Deloitte., 2023, Canadian consumers want to invest in sustainable retail despite growing inflation. Although the post-pandemic economy and rising cost of everyday purchases have resulted in reduced spending for the average Canadian, it was found that 63% of Canadians were willing to pay “a premium of 20% or more” for sustainable products and services. However, corporate greenwashing has led to increasing skepticism toward the true intentions of the companies. Interestingly, more than half (57%) of Canadian consumers also mentioned that they did not believe in the sustainability claims made by brands because of a lack of transparent and trustworthy information provided by the companies (Deloitte., 2023). This highly impacts how consumers interact with the brand.

“The time will come when there will be a threshold question that consumers will ask which is ‘can I trust this brand?’, and if the answer is ‘no’ they won’t buy anything. It will become a binary question.” 

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers

The companies are also highly unconcerned or unaware of the potential impact greenwashing accusations could have on their brand image. It is important that companies and business are not overstating their brand’s purpose and hijacking social issues in order to gain people’s attention. H&M has been highly criticized for greenwashing for their clothing line “Conscious”. Some items within the Conscious line are made from materials that, while labelled sustainable, may not be as environmentally friendly as they seem. For instance, using materials like recycled polyester can still contribute to microfiber pollution and other environmental issues. The marketing and messaging around the Conscious line uses vague or ambiguous language, making it difficult for consumers to discern the actual environmental impact of the products. Phrases like “more sustainable” or “eco-friendly” without clear metrics can mislead consumers into believing that the products are greener than they actually are (, 2023). While H&M provides some information about the Conscious line’s sustainability efforts, there is a lack of comprehensive transparency about the entire supply chain, manufacturing processes, and the true environmental impact of their products. This opacity makes it challenging for consumers to make informed decisions.

Nurturing Consumer Trust for Informed Decision-Making 

Prioritizing sustainability and social impact can help build a solid foundational trust with the consumers. Trust empowers consumers to make more informed choices, knowing that the brand’s actions align with their values. Certifications at various production levels and sharing facts that explain the sustainability claims of the product can also be beneficial in influencing consumers (Deloitte., 2023). Consumers choose brands they perceive as authentic, transparent, and committed to positive change. By nurturing trust, brands can gain a competitive edge and foster long-term loyalty. Brands that actively engage with stakeholders, including consumers, employees, and communities, foster trust and loyalty.

Actively collaborating with NGOs and industry peers on sustainability initiatives and involving stakeholders in decision-making demonstrate a genuine commitment to collective well-being. Brands that engage with stakeholders, including consumers, employees, and communities, foster trust and loyalty. Collaboration on sustainability initiatives and involving stakeholders in decision-making demonstrate a genuine commitment to collective well-being. Brands can also advocate for policy changes and engage in sustainable business practices, aligning their actions with their purpose to drive positive change. 

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell.”  

Seth Godin

Effective communication and storytelling are other vital factor in building purpose-driven brand trust. Connecting emotionally with the consumers through sharing compelling stories about sustainability initiatives, impact, and the people behind the brand reinforces confidence and trust in the brand’s mission. By emphasizing the benefits of sustainable choices and highlighting the environmental and social impact, brands can motivate consumers to prioritize sustainability in their decision-making process.  

“Together we exist to work and learn from those who continue to make great strides with modern day issues, while empowering our generation to take conscious steps in their everyday lives.”

Prashant Mehta, Founder & CEO of Conscious Step 

Patagonia’s success is an excellent example of this. Patagonia’s purpose-driven messaging often includes a call to action, encouraging consumers to get involved, make conscious choices, and support the causes they care about. This empowers consumers to participate in the solution, turning them into active participants rather than passive buyers. Their approach to business, which goes beyond profit and emphasizes environmental and social responsibility, has deeply resonated with consumers. By championing causes like environmental conservation, sustainable production, and fair labor practices, Patagonia creates a sense of community and belonging among customers, fostering a deeper connection to the brand. Today sustainability is a global issue, and there must be a collective responsibility to incorporate sustainability in all spheres. Purpose-driven brand trust plays an instrumental role in empowering sustainable consumer choices. Hence, by embracing transparency, authenticity, storytelling communication, and stakeholder engagement, brands can build trust and harness their trust to enable consumers to make sustainable choices. As consumers become more conscious of their purchases’ environmental and social impact, purpose-driven brands can drive positive change and contribute to a more sustainable world. 

References and Further Reading 

SAM Husaini (March 13, 2023). Unleashing the Power of Purpose: How Purpose-Driven Brands are Winning the Game 

Deloitte (2023) 

Deena Robinson (July 17, 2022). 10 Companies Called Out For Greenwashing 

Hasan Minhaj (November 25, 2019). The Ugly Truth Of Fast Fashion | Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Netflix 

Grant Trahant. Interview with the Founder of Conscious Step on Building a Million Dollar in Revenue Social Enterprise

Jasneet Kaur Chahal is a student at Humber College’s Research Analyst Program. Jasneet is highly motivated and eager to learn with experience in social media content creation andcoordinating volunteer initiatives to develop successful community service projects. Deeply passionate about public policy and the education sector and is dedicated to creating meaningful opportunities and inspiring greater civic engagement.

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