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The millennial generation of consumers is leading a dramatic shift not only in how we buy, but why we buy.

In the past three decades the world has changed at incredible speed. And for decades, organizations have been asking themselves why they should invest in a purpose, define their ethics or commit to a cause: "But what is the return on investment?"

Very few thought the necessary time, effort and money dedicated to investing in these intangibles would pay-off. And maybe even a few years, okay, this could be argued, but not today.

According to an Accenture's Global Consumer Pulse Research strategy report, consumers no longer make decisions solely on product and price, but rather they asses the entire brand: their message, their beliefs, what it stands for. Consumers today align themselves with brands that they themselves can personally identify with, and once you've won them, they stay much more loyal. And vice versa, if you loose them it will be much harder to get them back.

Credit: Accenture
Companies who don't take action, pay the price. (Graphic: Accenture)

This new wave of the purpose-driven consumer is a challenge for companies racing to keep up, but it also leaves room for great opportunity. Not only is it a chance for companies to demonstrate their own agility and adaptability, but it also creates a platform in which they can move to define a more authentic and deeper relationship with their customers.

This investment is part of a long-term strategy that will deliver you loyal followers that spend more with you. In truth, successful purpose-led brands don't see their customers as a a mere consumer, but rather as a long-time stakeholder that invests their time, money and attention into brands they love.

This in conjunction with information being so readily available means that people will know when an organization is acting on their promise. It's crucial to be transparent, create connections while staying on message. And while it's not an easy balancing-act, it's one that proves itself to be well worth it.

Don't believe us? Let's take a look at one of the best-known brands in the world that have taken the time to invest and re-position themselves as a brand with a voice--then go ahead, ask us again about ROI.

• NIKE; we'll spotlight the Kaepernick campaign.

Two words: Target. Demographic. Nike is not being controversial for controversy sake. The company may have decided to lose the vote of the baby boomer generation, but it was thought-out and intentional, and in-turn their gain is a stronger following in the younger age groups.

They weren't looking at the 3.9% drop in shares that hit them the next morning, they were looking at the next 40 years of brand loyalty they've created with their target demographic.

And despite the perceived backlash, mere days after the campaign yielded results they probably didn't expect to see in years. Nike Inc sale surged 31% in the following days and their share price is the highest it has been in history.

Check out more about this case, here.

The list of brands that align their business with purpose is growing by the day:

• Dove

• The Body Shop

• Patagonia

• The Walt Disney Group

• Etc.

Companies that are looking to dust-off their mission statement and revamp to make their purpose loud and clear need to ask themselves some tough questions: Why does your brand exist? What challenge does it solve? How would the world be different without it?

As you work through these, you'll soon discover what it is that makes this company special, and you'll be able to use that to your advantage with stronger connections and creating greater relevance to your customer.

Millennials, which are the world's most powerful consumer group, are delivering a clear message: it's time to take action, your business depends on it.

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