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Dec 24, 2020

Why doing business responsibly is a major brand differentiator

By Lorraine Barber-Miller
Chief Marketing and E-Commerce Officer

Estimated reading time: 5-7 minutes

After the year we’ve all had, having a clearly defined purpose is more important than ever. Customers and consumers are going to remember the companies that stepped up this year and faced their responsibilities head on. New research from McKinsey into consumer attitudes during the pandemic confirms this, suggesting that brand purpose is now one of the top reasons consumers consider trying new brands. 


At Philips, as a health technology company, our brand purpose is what drives us in everything we do. No matter who you are, where you are from, what your lifestyle is or what your beliefs are, everyone has the right to better healthcare. And there’s plenty of room for improvement: the World Health Organization reported that as recently as 2017 just a third to a half of the world’s population was covered by essential health services, with the picture unlikely to improve dramatically in the following years. 

Having a company purpose is more relevant than ever

At Philips, helping to solve these problems is central to our company purpose of improving the health and well-being of 2.5 billion people a year through meaningful innovation by 2030. In 2020 it helped drive us through the pandemic while achieving great things, but now is the time for planning ahead. One way we’re bringing our purpose to life is through our reinforced commitments to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals and obligations. These commitments recognize that we have a responsibility to our customers, consumers, and patients, but also to shareholders and employees. 


I firmly believe that as marketeers and communicators, we are the ultimate ambassadors of the brand. We have a responsibility to use the power of emotionally connected storytelling to explain why these ESG goals and commitments are important, how they relate to our company purpose, and how they differentiate our brand.

More than a plaque on the wall: bringing our ESG commitments to life


It’s all too easy to make grandiose statements, but how they translate to action is what matters most. Every day we’re bringing our purpose to life through improving the health and well-being of people, and delivering on our ESG goals today and for the future. 

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For example, to do our part to protect the environment, 100% of our products will be designed in line with our EcoDesign requirements to promote energy efficiency. By 2025 we’ve committed to sourcing 75% of our energy consumption from renewable sources and ensuring that 25% of our revenues are coming from ‘circular’ products, services and solutions. 


As part of our commitment to improving 2.5 billion lives each year by 2030, we also aim to expand access to care to 300 million people in underserved communities. We contributed to this goal in 2020, with technologies such as Lumify, an app-based point-of-care ultrasound, becoming an indispensable tool in the global response to COVID-19 for doctors on the front lines. 


As a global business, we understand that our supply chain can have a huge impact on our ESG commitments too, which is why we’ve committed to improving the lives of 1 million workers in our supply chain by 2025, and have introduced a Supplier Sustainability Performance Program to help measure our progress against this goal.

Marketing’s leading role in inclusion and diversity


We also want to be the best place to work for people who share our passion. Embracing inclusion and diversity (I&D) is at the heart of this. Our new goal of 30% gender diversity in senior leadership positions by the end of 2025 is part of creating a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees. 


At Philips we don’t see I&D as a ‘nice to have’, it’s a business imperative. In order to achieve our purpose of improving lives, we need to be able to communicate and engage effectively with the variety of people, communities and stakeholders we serve. We need to look like them, sound like them, and reflect their needs and priorities in order to drive action and positive change.

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The power of authentic storytelling and adapting quickly


It’s not enough to simply say what our brand’s ESG goals and commitments are, we need to explain to our audiences how we’re going to achieve them. That’s the essential role of marketing: using our skills to bring these commitments to life and motivate our workforce to strive to achieve our common goals. There have been so many inspiring stories across Philips this year which show this in action: from delivering telehealth to US veterans during the pandemic, setting up mobile ICUs in Japan, and providing medical devices in Lebanon, Turkey and Iran to combat COVID-19. 


One example from marketing comes to mind to show how much we’ve learned about being there for our audiences this year. Amid a global pandemic, we had a responsibility to act quickly and shift our engagement to a virtual world. Healthcare professionals came to us for guidance on how to use healthcare technology to treat people as the situation evolved. They weren’t looking to be sold to – rather, they wanted a strategic partner to help them on this challenging journey. In response, we built a new online knowledge hub in a matter of weeks that put this information front and center, and dynamically adapted it based on data-driven insights showing what content people needed most.


Healthcare is so personal and meaningful to each one of us, and that’s a powerful motivation for any marketeer. But no matter the industry, the learnings for marketeers are the same: live and breathe your brand purpose, and put it into practice in your culture and behavior. 

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Lorraine Barber-Miller

Lorraine Barber-Miller

Chief Marketing and E-Commerce Officer

Lorraine Barber-Miller leads the Marketing and E-Commerce function at Philips, ensuring the brand delivers on its purpose to improve lives through meaningful innovation. Lorraine’s global team of over 3,500 Philips marketing practitioners creates a signature experience for Philips customers, consumers and employees, boosting growth in core businesses and winning with solutions across the health continuum.

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