Who Thinks Brands Should be Involved in Social Issues?

YouGov have a survey asking what consumers think of firms getting involved in social issues. I think this is a fascinating topic. I would expect more and more political involvement from brands. If one has a choice over which brand to buy, why would you not buy one that supports your values. This is good for the consumer — they get to express their values in their purchases — and good for the firm — makes hiring staff easier and dampens competition as brands are less interchangeable. It might not be a good idea for firms producing “catch-all” products — bland, social expression-less products (e.g., toilet paper) — but many brands could benefit from taking a more active political stance. This can be on either side of a debate — it depends on what your customers like. (And what you are willing to give them. I’m hoping the New Balance people were not happy to be adopted by Neo-Nazis).

That said many people don’t agree with me. A fair number of people want politics to be left out of branding. Many suggesting that they don’t want brands involved in social issues. This does depend on the industry. “People believe that it’s most important for charities to have a point of view, followed by pharmaceutical and media companies.” (YouGov, 2018, page 7).

The differences and similarities between the US and British consumers were highlighted. Some were just a few percentage points difference — not much to note, maybe just a random effect. The profile of those who believe brands exploit issues is really interesting. They tend to skew male and older, they aren’t keen on firms getting involved in human rights/issues most relevant to the LGBT+ community. There seems to be almost an anti-business right-wing politics coming through.

Apparently British people think advertising doesn’t change their decisions — which may just be lack of self-awareness. The data also suggests there is less to gain by political branding in the UK. I’m not 100% sure this is true but the public think so.

Read: YouGov  (2018) The Social Voice of Brands: How British and American consumers feel about brands expressing opinions on social issues, https://today.yougov.com/topics/media/articles-reports/2018/10/01/social-voice-brands-how-us-and-uk-consumers-feel-a?utm_medium=Advertising&utm_source=Knect365&utm_campaign=US_2018_09_Social%20Voice%20of%20Brands_Report