The B2B Purpose Paradox | ANA

B2B companies overwhelmingly believe it is essential to bring a sense of purpose to their organizations, but they lack the critical knowledge and capabilities necessary to activate successful purpose-oriented initiatives.

That is the key finding of a new report, The B2B Purpose Paradox, a collaborative effort conducted by the ANA, the Harris Poll, and Carol Cone ON PURPOSE.

The study revealed that 86 percent of B2B companies embrace purpose as important to growth, but they are still on the path to implementing purpose so that it influences business and social outcomes. However, only 24 percent said purpose is embedded in their business to the point of influencing innovation, operations, and their engagement with society.

This is the B2B Purpose Paradox.

The slow adoption of fully integrated purpose was attributed to purpose feeling more like a PR exercise than an authentic activation (56 percent); purpose not playing a role within the competitive set (51 percent); and lacking the ability to operate with purpose at the center of the business (50 percent).

The report revealed overwhelming support of the role of purpose in B2B organizations:

  • 87 percent feel purpose protects their company's reputation
  • 75 percent say purpose supports recruiting
  • 75 percent agree prioritizing purpose had a positive impact on their growth
  • 64 percent feel purpose is critical or nearly critical to everything they do

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Research conducted in partnership with:



Key Takeaways from the Research

  • B2B companies are increasingly embracing purpose as a driver of business growth, contrary to the common belief that they lag behind B2C counterparts.
  • Hybrid B2B/B2C companies (those that serve both consumers and other businesses) are more effectively integrating purpose than companies that sell exclusively to businesses.
  • The majority of B2B purchasing decision-makers choose to source from companies with a well-articulated purpose and are willing to pay more for their products and services.
  • Business growth is one of the most important reasons to embrace purpose, yet purpose is not as effective in opening doors to new customers or generating leads.
  • The C-suite drives purpose strategy, while HR and corporate planning functions are responsible for implementation.
  • The financial services and insurance and professional services sectors lead in purpose, while manufacturing and telecommunications lag among five industries surveyed.
  • B2B professionals say their company does well in identifying and communicating purpose, but they don’t feel they are having a significant impact on society.


For more information and key findings, read the press release here.


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