Faculty News & Research

Aligning Company Purpose with Individual Experiences

Brands looking to create greater value need to show how their core purpose fits with customers’ lived experiences, according to Michigan Ross Professor of Marketing Venkat Ramaswamy

In a new essay for the European Business Review, Ramaswamy and coauthor Nicholas Ind of Kristiania University College in Norway note that the COVID-19 pandemic has put greater emphasis on individuals and their personal experiences. This change “calls for the dramatic rethinking of company brands,” they argue, to see individuals as experiencers aligned with a company’s core purpose.

Managers should understand and use their brand’s purpose when developing engagements with customers and other stakeholders, the authors write — following the concept of “co-creation” the authors detailed in an earlier essay. They use Airbnb as an extended example, explaining how the company’s approach helped its dramatic turnaround in the midst of the pandemic.

“A key catalyst behind rebounding its core business was connecting with the lived experiences of its customers and hosts, and learning from, and adapting with them,” the authors write. 

“Unfortunately, too many organizations are still primarily concerned with meeting the expectations of their shareholders,” they write. “Instead, conscientious corporate brands … are not only committed to listening to stakeholders, but most importantly, they engage them in their strategic decision-making processes.”

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Venkatram Ramaswamy
  • Professor of Marketing