Should retailers take a public stance on social issues?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.
Brands are in the political and societal spotlight more often these days — sometimes of their own accord and sometimes not. But to what extent should brands have a voice in societal matters?
Youth appear to feel more strongly about this than their older counterparts, according to a recent YouGov survey, which found half of Millennials (18-34) approving of brands taking a public stance on social issues, as opposed to only about one-quarter of Baby Boomers (55+).
Gen Xers (35-54) fall somewhere in between, with 41 percent believing that it’s fine for brands to take a stand.
Asked what causes in particular have gained more of their support over the past three months, the top answer across respondents was immigration, agreed to by 51 percent. That was followed by women’s rights, 43 percent; diversity and inclusion, 41 percent; education, 40 percent; environment, 38 percent; health, 36 percent; animals, 33 percent, and children, 27 percent.
Of course, making views public can cost brands customers: most of the respondents (59 percent) reported being very or somewhat likely to boycott a brand if they disagreed with the company’s stance, and two-thirds support boycotts based on political views. Six in 10 claimed to have not made a purchase at some point in the past because they didn’t believe in what the company stood for.
Brands that simply endorse the latest movement may not be doing enough. In fact, the majority of respondents agreed with the statement that brands tend to support causes that are popular, regardless of whether they are making an authentic commitment to that cause.
There seems to be a desire for such a commitment: prior research has found that youth prize brands that work for positive social change, with a majority believing that brands should actively participate to improve causes and that they have the potential to be a force for good.
- Should Brands Take Public Stances on Social Issues? Consumers Weigh In. – MarketingCharts
- Two-thirds of US adults support boycotting brands over politics – YouGov
- Which Brand Attributes Matter Most to Millennials? – MarketingCharts
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a split between younger and older generations in their reaction to what brands should stand for? Has it become less controversial and more beneficial to publicly embrace causes?