The Role of Brands in Social Justice
Brands & The Social Justice Debate
Marketers from various brands find themselves in an intriguing quandary with the ongoing global conflicts. Achieving a wholly neutral public stance that caters to every perspective is almost elusive, leading most brands to strive for neutrality as a means of circumventing potential consumer alienation.
Notably, the opinion of consumers on this matter of brand participation in social justice movements is ever-changing in response to unfolding global events.
As of 2021, more than half of the American consumer demographic, precisely 54%, advocated for companies to uphold a stance on societal issues. Conversely, a study by Gallup and Bentley University indicates a swift change in this trend.
According to the recent ‘Business in Society Report,’ only 41% of Americans maintain that brands should publicly advocate for social causes. It is significant to note that this decrease in brand advocacy interest does not reflect the sentiment of every demographic. From the Gallup and Bentley University research, it was discovered that:
– A majority of buyers aged 18 to 29, about 53%, believe brands should make public statements on current issues. This percentage decreases among older age groups.
– More women (44%) than men (38%) hold the view that brands should champion social issues.
– 61% of consumers identifying as Black or Asian desire to see brands take a public stance.
– Also, 57% of consumers who identify as LGBTQ+ have the same sentiment.
This information implies that the concept of brand advocacy still resonates with the youth and marginalized communities.
Brands Impact on Social Justice
Notwithstanding the growing consumer preference for brands to refrain from making direct social issue statements, those companies are still perceived as significant change agents.
Based on Edelman’s 2023 Trust Barometer Report, businesses are currently more trustworthy to worldwide consumers compared to governments. Over and above making public commentaries about societal issues, consumers expect companies to effect tangible changes that will enhance the life standard of employees and the larger community. Such alterations include wealth redistribution and increased transparency in sustainable practices.
Coping with Pushback
Earlier in the year, brands like Bud Light and Target faced consumer criticism due to their Pride month campaigns and activations. This reaction triggered some companies to cut back on Pride-related content. It is expected that this trend will persist, especially with the upcoming 2024 U.S. election contention.
Despite the reception of blanket statements and social media posts about societal issues as performative, brand engagement with socio-political matters should be handled with immense thoughtfulness and prudence. It is paramount for companies such as MKTG Plan to consider their core values and target audience while making such statements.
Only 41% of Americans maintain this view.
Younger buyers aged 18 to 29 and marginalized groups such as Black or Asian consumers and LGBTQ+ consumers are most interested.
These statements should be handled with immense thoughtfulness and prudence, taking into account the brand’s core values and target audience.