Brand activism: do consumers care?
In recent research, Beyond the Headlines: Unpacking common narratives in media and advertising, Comscore investigated three common myths about our industry:
In the second of our blog posts in this series, we will provide a few highlights regarding the second myth, Activism is good for business. Read the full report for more details.
Myth #2. Activism is good for business
Recently we have seen many brands adopting cause-based marketing: Nike, Gillette and Whirlpool to name but a few. The goal has been to be authentic and to connect with their audience on a new level. However, questions remain over how consumers perceive this new approach. Do they feel it’s just a marketing stunt? Are they really drawn to brands who wade into political or social issues?
To answer these questions, we undertook a large-scale survey in the U.S., the UK, and India. The main takeaway from the research is that brand activism is incredibly nuanced. While this may seem obvious, as we have seen many brands get it wrong, when brands get it right it is clear that the impact can be extremely positive. The main question is - is it worth the risk?
Driven by the belief that Millennials (defined as ages 23 – 38) and Gen Z (defined as ages 18 – 22) consumers are more socially and politically aware, brands can feel under pressure to take a stance and become purpose-driven. However, looking at consumer attitudes to brand activism revealed that just 15% of consumers said they strongly agree with the statement that “companies should take a stand on political/social issues.” For the most part consumers are ambivalent to brands taking such stances.
These revealing results suggests that marketers need to carefully consider the pros and cons of aligning with a social/political cause. Is the increased publicity, social media coverage and potential sales worth the risks of public backlash or, in extreme cases, boycotts?
Does age matter?
Whilst brands may be right in thinking that Millennial and Gen Z consumers are more likely to care about brand activism, the numbers suggest that it may not be as important to them as brands believe, with the full report finding that just 14% of UK Millennial and Gen Z respondents agree that ‘Brands should share their stance on social/political issues more often’.
What does this mean to marketers and media companies?
Whilst many cause-based marketing campaigns have generated considerable publicity and won awards at the likes of Cannes in recent months, our recent research suggests that most consumers are ambivalent about brands taking a public stance on social/political issues. This doesn’t mean that brand activism should be avoided, but that brands need to conduct extensive research before aligning with a cause or issue, weighing up the pros and cons in detail.
This blog post provides just a snippet of the insights around this topic. Read the full report now to learn more about navigating consumer attitudes to brand activism, as well as to explore the other common myths in the media and advertising industry.