“Don’t sell more stuff, sell a movement” is a new marketing mantra that has gotten a lot more prevalent in the last few years.
i.e. Align your brand with something higher, and then sell the something-higher. If people start associating your product with something that actually matters to them, then you win.
Dove Soap’s “Campaign For Real Beauty” is a good example of this. They’re not selling cleaner skin, they’re selling female empowerment.
Does it work? Maybe not with all women, but the campaign has been remarkably successful for over 10 years, not to mention, it has run all over world. So it did hit a nerve, regardless of what its detractors might say.
But as you can imagine, this tactic is risky. It can easily backfire if people suspect you of opportunistic pandering, suspect you of not being authentic.
The easiest way to guard against that happening, is to actually believe the stuff that comes out of your mouth.