Our, conducted in the UAE since 2010, revealed how the Power of Purpose is driving consumer preference and loyalty for corporations and brands.

From ideological and intentional standpoints, our market is ahead of the global average in 6 key ways:

  1. More than half of UAE residents believe the responsibility of ‘people like me’ to address societal issues has increased over the past year
  2. Almost 6 in 10 think that we have more power and influence to make a difference on those issues than compared to five years ago.
  3. We’re more likely to say we buy brands that support good causes.
  4. We’re more likely to pay a premium for products and services from companies that support a good cause (by over 10 percentage points)
  5. We’re more likely to invest in companies that support a good cause (by 14 percentage points)
  6. We’re more likely to want to work for companies that support good causes (again, by 14 percentage points)

So the takeaway is… in the UAE, we’re motivated to support good causes and we feel empowered to do so. That empowerment could very well be related, in part, to what we’ve seen happen in this region as part of the Arab spring.

Based on those statistics, you might think that we’d have a proliferation of business/cause partnerships popping up left and right. But the reality is…these collaborations are not as prevalent as the recent goodpurpose statistics might lead you to believe.

Why? I think a couple of factors influence this…

  • Role of government – When businesses DO partner with a 3rd party to address some societal issue here, that 3rd party is more likely to be the government or a government agency (like the Abu Dhabi Education Council, for instance) than a non-profit, an NGO or cause organization.
  • Resources – Though global perceptions tend to lump our market into the “big spender” category, brand marketing budgets here seldom reflect that stereotype. Communications offices are fledgling, having been set up in the last 2-3 years, and are dealing with much smaller pots of money than their counterparts in the US and Europe.

But this is changing.

Non-profits and NGOs are beginning to multiply. Relatively new local causes like Think Up GCC, Dubai Cares and Gulf 4 Good are joining more established global and regional causes like the Red Crescent and UNICEF.

And businesses are starting to appreciate the opportunity to give back – for both altruistic and commercial benefit.

  • Just this year, Aramex partnered with Care by Air – to underwrite services to relief and humanitarian organizations at cost.
  • UAE Exchange partnered with Unicef, to donate a sum for their remittance services, in the support of underprivileged children.
  • And last month, KFC hosted a 5k run on Jumeirah Beach, donating proceeds to the Red Crescent.

The challenge moving forward will be strategic.

Which organizations should partner?

How will they best leverage scant resources?

How will communications leads sell social purpose cause marketing in to their management teams?

As the business-cause partnership trend continues, there will be more need than ever before for guidance on stakeholder mapping, cause selection, KOL engagement and reputation management throughout that process.

Studies like goodpurpose, particularly because it provides information tailored to our market, will be critical in predicting the needs of the market, and guiding it in its development. We look forward to partnering with clients on many social purpose initiatives in the future.