How leading brands build better growth and a better future

Chris Fosdick

By Chris Fosdick

Across industries and categories, consumers are more demanding than they’ve ever been. Good is no longer good enough. Consumers want their favorite brands to offer them great product experiences, but they also increasingly look to brands for leadership in creating a more positive human future.

For brands, this means going beyond the bottom line to create meaningful connections and fuel better growth. So, what does it take to achieve better growth? We spoke to 7,000 US consumers to find out which brands do it best.

In the US, household expenditure accounts for more than two-thirds of national gross domestic product. So, brands matter. The decisions they make, and the products and services they offer, drive economies and shape human experience and interaction.

We launched the Brand Impact Index to chart the moving target of consumer sentiment. We explored their relationships with over 320 brands across more than 30 categories to understand what they look for from brands and identify patterns that could help business leaders drive growth. Our findings were clear: the most impactful brands forge meaningful connections, ignite potential through innovation, and get closer to consumers.

Brands shape markets – and the world

People want brands to meet their everyday needs in a dependable way and connect with them on a deeper emotional level. They want new and improved offerings that delight and inspire. But, beyond this, US consumers want brands to drive impact for communities, and for the planet.

The top performing brands in our Index harness the potential of this new demand shift. They are emotionally intelligent, relentlessly innovative, and focus on building the better future that consumers crave.

Importantly, before they earn the right to be seen as agents of change, brands first have to succeed at positively impacting consumers’ daily lives. Brand leaders have to get the product, service, and experience just right – and then position their business as a force for good.

A new engine for better growth

Our research uncovered five key components that, together, enable brands to create a growth engine of value creation for consumers, shareholders, and the world at large:

1. Engage emotionally

Deeply understand consumers to infuse joy into everyday life, nurturing long-lasting, loyal relationships.

2. Deliver dependably

Stand as a trusted pillar of assurance, relentlessly focused on making life easier and better for consumers.

3. Innovate intelligently

Pioneer with vision to create and promote winning products, services, and experiences that impact lives and shape culture.

4. Create consciously

Place sustainable approaches at the heart of your purpose and every decision, building a better world and inspiring consumers.

5. Cultivate community

Actively and visibly champion causes close to consumers’ hearts, giving something back while forging connections that transcend transactions.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

While no single brand wins at everything, the brands that perform best are able to deliver across multiple components of the growth engine. PetSmart sits in the top five brands across three key components, including cultivating community, where the brand connects to its pet parent community by championing causes such as pet adoption. Levi’s gets credit for designing must-have products that delight while also creating consciously with a focus on environmental impact.

Many of the top performers in the list are simple staples that make everyday life better, safer, and easier. Indeed, the number one brand is Dawn, a P&G dish soap brand with a flair for innovations such as its Powerwash™ dish spray. The brand’s squeaky-clean performance stands testament to its success, with high scores across the board. And its ongoing commitment to cleaning animals affected by oil pollution makes it a brand that consumers feel good about using.

Dawn is joined at the top by a number of brands relating to the household and personal care – including Tide, Dove, Clorox, and Colgate. These organizations deeply understand customers’ wants and needs, and meet them in a reliable, relevant, responsible way. They hit all components of a new engine for better growth, charting a path to a better future.

Building a better future, today

At PA, we help global brands anticipate and respond to the shifts of tomorrow, bringing ingenuity to life to create a positive human future. This is why we’ve created the Index, and why each year we’ll track shifts in consumer sentiment to help brands sail the changing tide.

About the authors

Chris Fosdick
Chris Fosdick PA growth strategy expert

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