These days many companies are making efforts to put mindful and sustainable business practices into action. Yet despite daily stories of consumer activism, many still ask the important question: Does caring convert into action when it comes down to a buying decision? New data from Google and Nielsen find that the answer is yes, and for a growing number of consumers around the world.

The path to purpose is the path to purchase: A growing motivation for consumers to go online is to enrich themselves and find information to help them fulfill their passions. As such, Google reports that these consumers choose brands that engage them on their passions and interests 42% more often than those that simply urge them to buy the product being advertised. That’s why they also consider it critical for a brand to demonstrate its principles at all times when a customer is looking at different options. Finally, these purpose-driven customers are more valuable, being 70% more likely to have purchased something online in the past month and 1.6x more likely to rate a product or service online at least once a week (versus consumers driven simply by entertainment or connection).

People will pay more for purpose: According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, U.S. consumer likelihood to choose brands associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality, has jumped from two-thirds of the population in 1993 to nearly the entire population in 2013. Moreover, 55% of global respondents in Nielsen’s corporate social responsibility survey were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 45% in 2011.

Authenticity and inspiration are the new currency: Capitalizing on these cultural behaviors is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more brands come to market with a message of purpose. It’s not enough to simply put a ribbon on a package or talk about “sustainability” in broad sweeping terms but instead, takes a commitment to clarity, authenticity, and expert storytelling to connect with consumers. Consumers are media savvy and faced with seemingly limitless content and media options, so clarity around what companies are doing to effect change and exactly how consumers can play a role is critical.

Reaching these powerful new consumers is hard work, but it’s also a major opportunity for brands that truly understand what Google terms as “Gen C.” Generation C is not defined in the traditional sense of age parameters, but because they thrive on Connection, Community, Creation and Curation. About 65% of Gen C are under 35, but regardless of how old they are, for these tastemakers, knowledge and inspiration are their currency and they openly welcome the right brands into their circles. In fact, three in four Gen C consumers share the brand they love.

The degree to which purpose influences purchases is eye-opening and is quickly becoming table stakes for long-term market leadership. But for those brands that have defined their higher purpose, view citizens and customers as partners in change, and leverage technology to tell an inspirational and shareable brand stories, the sky’s the limit.

If you’d like two days of hands-on training on how to define, frame, and share a purposeful brand story and build out your own 2015 Social Branding Blueprint™ based on the latest marketing research and case studies, join us Oct 7-8 at the 2014 We First Brand Leadership Summit.