Human-centric numbers: there's more to business than making money

  • Voices
  • September 11, 2017
  • Antonia Mann
Human-centric numbers: there's more to business than making money
(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
– Robert Kennedy, 1968

As a measurement of progress and prosperity, the GDP (and GNP) has been controversial since its inception. Focused on economic progress to the exclusion of the welfare of people and environment, it has nevertheless become the most important indicator of the success of a nation. 

When we look at the cultural milieu today and the values and beliefs that many people hold (not all people, admittedly), much of it is a reaction to the results of single-minded pursuit of economic development embodied by the GDP.

Following financial crises, high-level corruption without punishment and rising inequality, anti-capitalist and anti-establishment sentiment are at high levels. The ever-more dramatic effects of climate change are forcing acknowledgement of the correlation between industry and climate change, and the realisation that solutions to social and environmental problems are intrinsically tied to the economy (again, admittedly not for all people). 

The search for happiness and fulfilment is also less correlated with money. Instead, it is sought through balance, well-being and self-growth. At street level, these values can be seen in the growing desire for jobs that are fulfilling, the shift to holistic health and mindfulness, conscientiousness about the services and goods we choose to buy, and indeed eschewing material goods for rewarding experiences. While one may say this cultural outlook predominates in affluent developed countries, as more people around the world reach middle-class status, similar expressions of these values are expected to grow.

Because the GDP measure was developed at a time when physical manufacturing, production, quantity and output was the basis of the economy, it does not reflect the very visible changes in how we work, what we value and what we pay for today.

Today’s workforce is digital, mobile, flexible, with diverse family and household roles. We live in a service-led and experience-orientated economy. And in the digital age, much of what we value is intangible; things that we used to pay for, like communications and entertainment, are now free. Nor is the GDP great at accounting for the human creative; intellectual and network capital are today’s growth drivers – especially so in a country like New Zealand which is geographically remote but economically affluent and thriving on being technologically advanced.

Alternative facts

The emergence of alternative numbers, rankings and indexes that measure how we treat people and our environment (rather than pure production) demonstrates the immense value shift happening around the world.

World Happiness Report: At the top, initiatives such as the World Happiness Report launched by the UN in 2012, Social Progress Index and the OECD Better Life Index track progress at a national and global level. New Zealand currently sits at eighth in the World Happiness Report.

The B Corp certification: Currently, the journey to doing “progress” and “prosperity” in a better way is full of tensions and difficulties for both businesses and people. From TRA’s research, we know that people want to shop responsibly for what they can afford, but the time and effort required to figure out which businesses and brands align with their values is a barrier. In response, alternative indexes provide figures that both call companies to account and present meaningful indicators to people.

For instance, the B Corp certification is earned by businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, aiming to drive a movement whereby “one day all companies will compete to be best for the worldTM, and society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity.” As a generic purpose for business, this resonates much more credibly with people than brands that appear to randomly adopt a cause or jump on the bandwagon of a current social issue when the brand has no history or inherent connection with it.

The Empathy Index: This index provides a score for companies based on employee perceptions of the company, diversity and inclusion initiatives at the company, and environmental factors including carbon emissions, forestry and water usage. It is calculated by using a combination of social media analysis and a panel selected from the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. The top 10 companies in the 2015 Global Empathy Index doubled in value and generated 50 percent more earnings compared to the bottom 10.

The article by Tim Gregory in the latest issue of Frame talks about the role that employee experience plays in carrying the company’s brand into the market place. A company’s performance on the Empathy Index could play a big part in delivering the overall brand experience which includes the customer experience.

The Fashion Revolution Transparency Index: I observed the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index being greeted with excitement and relief by fashion-conscious colleagues when it was first released. The report reflects the desire to know how transparent fashion companies are, in an industry where we are most confronted by the ethics of the choices we make. “Now I know where I can shop without guilt,” was the general sentiment. Shopping without guilt provides a strong emotional reward, and brands that reward people at an emotional level show their customers that they understand them and have listened to their concerns.

Aspiration, do well do good:  Ethical finance firm Aspiration brought meaningful numbers even closer to the individual with the recent launch of a tool on their app. Customers are able to track how environmentally friendly a business is and how well the companies they buy from treat their community and employees (note again the role of employees in forming brand impressions). They make themselves more valuable to people by connecting with them in the broader context of their lives.

A single measure is not enough

GDP provides a good analogy for why focusing on a single measure of the world of the customer is not enough. It may have reflected the priorities of the times but new indexes show what the priorities of people are today. The meanings of success and prosperity today encompass more than money and profit, underscoring the fact that we cannot view people purely in transactional and economic terms. Their values and belief systems, the broader context of their lives, will allow brands to connect with them more meaningfully.

  • Antonia Mann is a cultural strategist at TRA.
  • This article first appeared in TRA’s publication Frame: The Human-centric Issue. To receive a copy, please email subscribe@tra.co.nz.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Tonkin + Taylor’s Briana Miller talks carving out her niche in the industry

  • Marketing
  • October 19, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Tonkin + Taylor’s Briana Miller talks carving out her niche in the industry

Tonkin + Taylor customer experience advisor Briana Miller continuously upskills to put as much as she can into her work. After starting in an administrative role, she’s worked her way up and has already proved herself be a real asset to the industry and was one of this year’s TVNZ-NZ Marketing ‘Rookie Marketer of the Year’ finalists. We chat with her about the journey so far.

Read more
Values, impact and purpose: why marketers should be paying attention to culture
Sponsored content

Values, impact and purpose: why marketers should be paying attention to culture

The ideas, systems and social behaviours of people come from the context of culture. As large cultural shifts take place globally, it’s more important than ever for brands and marketers to stay on top of the constantly evolving changes as they land on our shores. StopPress spoke with marketers from ANZ New Zealand and Westpac New Zealand, as well as Colleen Ryan, partner at TRA, about the importance of culture in marketing, how to use culture to make impactful messaging, and the results that come from companies looking outwards.

Kathmandu travels the world in latest in-house campaign

  • Advertising
  • October 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Kathmandu travels the world in latest in-house campaign

Kathmandu has set its sights on the world, with its first-ever global brand campaign, ‘Kathmandu World Ready’, developed by its in-house creative team.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 long-term marketing excellence winner: Trustpower
news

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 long-term marketing excellence winner: Trustpower

Innovating and staying ahead of the curve in the electricity market isn’t easy. Trustpower knew it needed to act quickly if it wanted to slow its customer churn rate – and that’s when it found its 'light bulb' idea. We take a look at this year's TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards long-term excellence award winner.

Stationery ranger comes to the rescue for Warehouse Stationery

  • Advertising
  • October 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Stationery ranger comes to the rescue for Warehouse Stationery

Warehouse Stationery has launched its latest spot featuring a stationery ranger and a horse made out of Blu Tack.

Read more
voices
Bauer Media launches online beauty community: beautyheaven.co.nz
Sponsored content

Bauer Media launches online beauty community: beautyheaven.co.nz

The publisher’s new digital platform is the ultimate destination for all things beauty.

VTNZ leaves a mark as September's Ad Impact Award winner

  • Ad Impact
  • October 17, 2018
  • StopPress Team
VTNZ leaves a mark as September's Ad Impact Award winner

With summer on the way, September showed us a whole hoard of new campaigns being launched. While there was plenty to choose from, it was VTNZ with its 'Road Commander gets a WoF' TVC by FCB that picked up the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award.

Read more

Māori media set for 'sector shift'

  • Media
  • October 17, 2018
  • Radio New Zealand
Māori media set for 'sector shift'

The Māori media sector is set to be reviewed for the first time since 1998. A policy initiative has been announced, titled "Māori Media Sector Shift", that will include Māori Television, the Māori radio network and Te Mangai Paho.

Read more
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 Supreme Award winner: AA
news

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 Supreme Award winner: AA

Most New Zealanders will have heard of AA. It’s a trusted, reliable brand and it’s been around a long time. But, with technological advancements threatening its business model, it knew it needed to diversify or die. We take a look at this year's TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards Supreme Award winner.

From junk to jewellery: Design Junkies search for second crop of designers

  • Television
  • October 16, 2018
  • Idealog
From junk to jewellery: Design Junkies search for second crop of designers

Design and craft-based television show - Design Junkies - has been allocated its second lot of funding from TVNZ. The spend comes following a successful first series, produced by Warner Bros. NZ, which sees a diverse bunch of designers upcycle junk into coffee tables, photo shoot props, and various other installations. In light of the release, the show is currently on the hunt for the crop of next designers, makers and artists to feature on the next edition.

Read more

Whittaker's' Hannah Gray on working her way up in marketing

  • Marketing
  • October 16, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Whittaker's' Hannah Gray on working her way up in marketing

Whittaker's brand manager Hannah Gray knows the value of working her way up in the workplace. She started at the company in 2014 as the receptionist and four years on was one of this year's TVNZ-NZ Marketing 'Rookie Marketer of the Year' finalists. We chat with her about finding her feet in the industry.

Read more

Ads of the week: 16 October

  • TVC of the week
  • October 16, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 16 October

A round of applause for Got A Trade, The Warehouse and Air New Zealand.

Read more

ReachMedia secures The Warehouse Group's 'smart mailer' business

  • Advertising
  • October 16, 2018
  • StopPress Team
ReachMedia secures The Warehouse Group's 'smart mailer' business

The Warehouse Group has appointed data-driven letterbox marketing company ReachMedia to distribute mailers for the group's family of brands.

Read more

Got A Trade releases ad disguised as a music video

  • Advertising
  • October 16, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Got A Trade releases ad disguised as a music video

Got A Trade and Ogilvy NZ have created an interactive ad which looks like a music video with the aim of attracting young Kiwis into trades and services.

Read more
Are loyalty programmes really worth it?
Sponsored content

Are loyalty programmes really worth it?

As every retailer offering a loyalty programme knows, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Truth Customer Academy shares how to consider the value exchange you’re really offering with your loyalty programme, and get the most out of your investment.

Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2018 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit