Perhaps Cameron Slater was hangry when tweeted about Whittaker’s homage to Māori Language Week.
Or maybe he’s just ignorant.
Whatever the reason, it has backfired, with Whittaker’s fans, chocolate fans and te reo Māori fans going out of their way to support the Kiwi company.
As The Spinoff quite sensibly points out, Slater will be shocked to discover the supermarket is filled with other foreign muck. Madarins? Meusli? Mascarpone? So wokester.
More fundamentally, what makes him think woke don’t sell?
“To be honest, Cameron’s got it wrong on both ‘woke’ and ‘broke’,” says Sharon Henderson, a long-time advertising exec and boss of agency Federation. “As for woke, he’s politicising something that isn’t political. Whittaker’s is doing what many of us have done for several years now, and that’s celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Maori Language Week. Creating a limited edition is a great idea and shows a contemporary contextuality that’s entirely appropriate to the moment and mood of the event.”
And as for broke, he’s wrong again. Research by Deloitte shows that purpose-driven brands like Whittaker’s perform better than conventional brands on a wide variety of metrics – and not just sales.
“Purpose-oriented companies have higher productivity and growth rates, along with a more satisfied workforce who stay longer with them. Our research shows that such companies report 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors,” says Deloitte of a 2019 study in consumer trends.
The study shows that, especially in mature categories, purpose-led brands can achieve a premium over their competitors.
“For example, Unilever’s 28 “sustainable living” brands (i.e., brands focused on reducing Unilever’s environmental footprint and increasing social impact) such as Dove, Vaseline, and Lipton delivered 75% of the company’s growth and grew 69% faster on average than the rest of its businesses in 2018 (compared to 46% in 2017). Soap, petroleum jelly, and tea are everyday household essentials, but by promoting sustainable living, these products became differentiated as they embody the company’s purpose.
That figures. Human shoppers are not just rational, looking for price or performance. We’re also looking for meaning, for connection to a higher purpose.
Sharon Henderson again. “Purpose-driven brands are built around the new bottom line of the 3P’s. Doing good for People, Planet and Profit. As an agency that’s invested significantly in sustainability knowledge, we know implicitly that purpose-driven brands like Whittaker’s see much higher market share gains and grow at least three times faster on average than brands that don’t have purpose embedded into their DNA.
“Ironically in drawing attention to Whittaker’s purpose of supporting the revitalisation of te reo Māori as a language, he will only be adding to their success.
“Ka pai tō mahi Whittaker’s!”