By Bernadette Hopen, Branding & Community Associate at Inspiring Capital

LinkedIn | Twitter  | Website 

Nell Derick Debevoise used to cringe when investors asked, “Who’s your customer?” Inspiring Capital is a hybrid social impact consulting and training firm. It has a program for women re-entering the workforce (ranging from early 30s to late 60s), a fellowship for MBAs, training for mid-career professionals, partnerships with large corporations, nonprofits, social enterprises… it seemed ridiculous to say all of these different types of people and companies were her customers. However, it’s not ridiculous. In fact, there is a way to answer that daunting question with one simple word: Aspirationals.

Aspirationals are defined by values, community, and their desire to make a positive impact on the world. Making up 40% of the global consumer market, Aspirationals are extremely influential and are putting pressure on businesses to expand their branding, operations, and hiring policies to include social and environmental values.

They like to shop, they care about influencing their friends, and they proudly vote with their wallet. Meeting at the intersection of materialism and social and environmental values, Aspirationals are incredible customers.

It’s important to note that Aspirationals aren’t interchangeable with millennials. Aspirationals span across generations, socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, ect.

B Corps BBMG and GlobeSpan partnered together to create a  groundbreaking study on Aspirationals in October 2015 (Five Human Aspirations & The Future of Brands). The study showed that there were five main wants from Aspirationals. BBMG then looked at those wants from the perspective of a consumer. Inspiring Capital took it one step further and analyzed those wants from the perspective of employees.

We determined that learning to engage with Aspirationals as employees will empower companies to hire talent that can provide social and environmental impact, which in turn, results in a healthier and more sustainable economy.

Here are the five Aspirational wants:

Aspirational Wants Infographic

1. Abundance Without Waste

  • Customers → Want to have more meaningful experiences in life without having to use more resources. There’s a shift from a scarcity mentality to one where creativity is endless.

  • Employees → Want to flourish in their careers without unnecessary facetime or bureaucracy. They value their time, and as long as their work is getting done, they avoid being tied down to a traditional office lifestyle (i.e. 9-5 work schedule).

2. Truly Without Waste

  • Customers → Welcome imperfections in a company as honest and beautiful. Flaws are viewed as an opportunity to grow and transparency is valued.

  • Employees → Want the freedom to be authentic. To be their honest self at work without fear of being punished or rejected.

3. Get Closer

  • Customers → Important to connect with the people behind the brand promise. Value a “made by the people” mindset over “made by machines.”

  • Employees → Want to have personal relationships with their colleagues and managers.

4. All of It

  • Customers → Want to experience freedom beyond binaries and finish lines. There is a move from fixed answers to fluid options.

  • Employees → Desire horizontal movement and opportunities for stretch assignments beyond the typical day-to-day job.

5. Do Something Good

  • Customers → Agency and impact matter. Their purchases are viewed as votes for brands that they believe in.

  • Employees → Need agency and impact in the everyday, internally and externally.  Purpose-driven work is important to keep employees engaged and happy.

Have you looked at how your company is interacting with Aspirationals? If you’re interested in learning more, watch Nell Derick Debevoise and Bernadette Hopen (Community & Brand Associate at Inspiring Capital) recap Inspiring Capital’s Engaging Aspirationals as Talent and Customers event.