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When Your Brand Should Take a Stand

Historically, consumers have been focused on the price and value differentiators that a particular brand provided to them. The desire to save money on a product perceived to have high value was widely adopted by most, and far outweighed any other benefit a brand could provide. Fast forward to the year 2020, and things have changed dramatically. Consumers have shifted their buying behaviors to place far more value on the actions and beliefs of a company than ever before. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by global communications firm Edelman, 2 out of every 3 people are belief-driven buyers, meaning they choose, or avoid a brand based on its stand on societal issues. This shift in consumer behavior leaves many brands questioning whether or not they themselves should contribute to the larger conversations happening in the world. Conversations about health, race, the environment, governmental policies etc. The truth of the matter is, by avoiding these controversial topics, the brand inadvertently alienates about 66% of all consumers. No matter how you look at it, passing up on 66% of all buying power is a complete mistake on your brand’s behalf. While it is important to speak out on many of these major topics, it is crucial that you ask yourself the following questions. Does your brand authentically support the cause and/or belief? This can be a tough one, because we all know that brands are actively seeking consumer acceptance and expansion of profits. It can be enticing to join a cause that you believe your consumers will feel strongly about, but if it is not something you can authentically support, you are doing your brand a disservice. Throwing your hat into the ring can be a dangerous proposition if you do not have the means in which to support your belief. Pepsi found themselves in a situation such as this, where they insinuated the idea that a can of Pepsi could put an end to political unrest and police brutality. To no surprise, the ad was pulled, and consumers were left feeling confused at Pepsi’s attempt to join the conversation inauthentically. Is your brand ready to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the cause? Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before. Maintaining a transparent commitment to a cause you back is essential. Not only will it maintain consumer trust, but it will also set a precedent that you are a company that speaks well to your word. Consumers are wise to marketing manipulation and will call out a brand that doesn’t exemplify their commitment to a cause. Making the decision to join the conversation at hand can feel risky for your brand’s reputation. But the truth of the matter is, you are more at risk of being persecuted for not speaking out at all. Of course, there will always be those individuals that feel negatively about your decision to stand for a cause. But truth be told, brands that choose to protect themselves from the difficult conversations are actually missing out on opportunities that their competitors are gaining. After all, in the year 2020 consumers rely on brands for far more than their products or services. The Edelman study actually found that value-based communications and product-based communications elicited the same purchase intent in consumers – meaning that a brand’s beliefs are equally as important as the products or services they sell. At the end of the day, involving your brand with causes and initiatives that can be authentically and transparently maintained will be to your benefit. Join the conversations without fear of repercussion because the reality is, it is exactly what your consumers want.
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