'Saviours vs salespeople': With the rise of conscious consumption, can selling be purposeful?

'Saviours vs salespeople': With the rise of conscious consumption, can selling be purposeful?

“We’re not saving lives.”

It’s an agency adage often used to calm ourselves when we lose perspective. But just as the brands we work with have grappled with their sense of ‘purpose’, so have we.

Introducing people to new things, helping to build businesses, creating growth and in turn jobs—these have always felt like purposeful applications of creativity to me. Of course, purpose cannot be defined solely in economic terms—our societal, cultural and environmental impacts must be understood and improved. 

But as we seek to recast ourselves as saviours, are we forgetting how to sell?

Are we ashamed of being salespeople?

Multiple studies suggest that customers want to buy from brands that have purpose. 

Have we got hung up on the ‘purpose’ bit at the expense of the ‘buy’ bit?

Conscious consumption must be complemented by appropriate marketing. It’s something we’ve termed ‘sustainable salesmanship’. 

The thought behind the recent work by AKQA for Levi’s is a good example—‘buy better, wear longer’. It proclaims brand superiority, quality and durability, alongside sustainability. 

It’s conscious and it’s commercial.

New concerns are driving how products are designed, made, bought, used, and reused. This should be our time. Behaviours are shifting. Needs are changing. 

Sustainability needs as good a sales spiel as any we can create.

M&C Saatchi London has just launched “GOGOSOHO”—a purposeful initiative in that it is work done pro-bono to support a return to Soho post-lockdown. But it’s not for charity—in fact, its intent is entirely commercial.

These small businesses have suffered disproportionately in lockdown. Many have been propped up by life savings, but the return of passing trade is a true lifeline.

Supporting this neighbourhood of start-ups, indies and family dreams feels as purposeful a pursuit as any – socially, culturally and economically.

We want to help these businesses sell things.

We can be saviours, and salespeople.

Conscious consumption must be met head on with considered commerciality, sustainable salesmanship, and ethical economics.

None of this should suggest a shame in selling, but rather a pride in finding new ways to do so.

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