#21interviews: The power of being purpose-led will drive brand value

Kantar AME chief growth officer, Karin Du Chenne, says business success is tied to being more purpose-led in approach. 

Karin Du Chenne, Chief Growth Officer Africa and the Middle East at Kantar, tells Retailing Africa that there is an increasing correlation with business success and being more purpose-led in approach.

Changing client needs

It’s been a time of great change and we have seen clients find new ways to solve traditional problems. Most have adapted well to working from home, with many saying it’s actually been more productive. As an insights agency, we have finally seen large-scale adoption of our online/mobile research offering, as clients took the opportunity of a natural trend break to make the change. As many of our global clients will not be comfortable with face-to-face fieldwork for some time too, this as a more sustainable approach. In this time of uncertainty, we have seen clients needing more support on analytics, forecasting and scenario planning to ensure they are able to plan for the different possibilities 2021 may bring. As many brands have needed more information on the role of ecommerce in their shopper journey work, as well as a greater need for speed, we have launched our new Marketplace agile insight platform, for overnight ad and concept testing.

Surprising consumer behaviour

What has surprised me the most is just how quickly people were able to adapt and pivot to new behaviours. Many consumers made their first online purchase for the first time in 2020 and have realised how simple the process is. We’ve also seen consumers become more price sensitive as their family and household incomes have been negatively affected. However, they still want to treat themselves, as a coping mechanism, so, we have seen a shift of spend from out-of-home consumption – visiting restaurants or bars; to in-home spoils like choccies, ice-cream, take-aways. Many homes have learned how to connect with families and friends via Zoom, with the weekly quiz becoming a lockdown staple. With regards to brand choice, people were no longer operating on autopilot as before – instead, many decisions were re-evaluated within the new context and consumers chose the brands offering them the best value equation for their needs.

Personal challenges

The beginning of lockdown was really hectic for me in supporting so many change programmes for our clients; as we figured out how to help and had to move so many physical meetings to virtual ones. We also kicked off our bi-weekly COVID-19 Barometer research, which meant many global and local brainstorms on the content itself and implications of the findings. This meant many long days and nights, never getting out of that home-office chair. I realised that I had to get active again and made sure to take more frequent breaks and get moving. On a more positive note, one of the best findings of 2020 has been collaborative working via the cloud, Teams and Sharepoint. No more documents flying about with various versions on email – rather working on one document from all parts of the world, with a single version of the truth guaranteed. Love it!

Launching a brand during a global crisis

My general advice would be the same as for any launch – make sure you are salient and that you are offering a meaningful difference to the market. We’ve seen an increasing correlation with business success and being more purpose-led in approach. So, examine your thinking and ensure you are being true to your purpose. With regard to distribution, I would definitely ensure I have a strong ecommerce strategy in place for launch, given its vital role since the onset of the pandemic, which is sure to continue into the future.

Future business

From a work perspective, I think there will definitely be new models for work – with companies offering office/work-from-home combinations. Offering flexible working solutions will be a strong driver of being an employer of choice in 2021. I believe that ecommerce will remain at the new higher levels we’ve seen under lockdown; and that the innovation that has taken place in the courier and delivery space will continue, as people enjoy getting what they want, fast (with the bar having been set by the likes of Checkers Sixty60, within an hour). I think as soon as people know that the soon-to-come vaccine is working and they feel safe again, they will return to many old behaviours and choices. However, when it comes to brand choices, many are likely to stick with the choices they made during lockdown. I also feel that the need for human connection and bonding will become increasingly important as people tire of isolation and brands will need to be cognisant of this. The power of being purpose-led will continue to drive brand value, as corporate responsibility will also play a more central role going forward.


For more insights for retail and brand leaders in the #21interviews series publishing 1-21 December 2020, ahead of 2021:

#21interviews LAUNCH: 2021 comes with a disclaimer by Louise Burgers, Publisher & Editor, RetailingAfrica.com

#21interviews: Brands need to get brave by Bozoma Saint John, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Netflix


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