Should your brand get political in 2018?
Monday, January 15, 2018
Keep your personal and your professional life separate. It's been a mantra passed down for generations.
But within the last decade, it has gone out of style. More than half of employed adults check work messages over the weekend, before or after work and even on sick days, found a 2013 American Psychological Association study. The two spheres have merged, mainly due to technology and social media networks.
Likewise, the advice that you should never mix business and politics has also evolved. Again, technology plays a big role here, but so does the 2016 United States presidential election.
President Donald Trump's job ratings are more polarized than any president in the past six decades. 88 percent of Republicans approved of the president's job during the first year compared to 8 percent of Democrats, according to 2017 Pew Research.
Both sides remain heated. A new study from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program found that college freshmen are more politically engaged than they have been in five decades. Political rallies, conventions and protests have drawn massive crowds in recent years.
That passion and action have translated to a spike in conversation on social media. Nearly a quarter of Facebook and Twitter users say a lot of what they see on each site is related to politics, found 2016 Pew Research.
With the rise in political engagement, citizens want businesses, like you, to take action.
Back in 2014, a Global Strategy Group study found 56 percent of Americans believed companies should stand up for what they believe politically regardless of whether it's controversial. Now, a Sprout survey conducted in September of 2017 saw that number rise 10 percentage points. Two-thirds of U.S. consumers say it's important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues.
As you may have guessed, consumers said social media was the place they're most receptive to brands communicating positions on social and political issues. But does that mean your brand should chime in?
It's a decision that requires long and hard thought. But other brands have done it successfully. Patagonia is suing Trump for his decision to rescind 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument and nearly 50 percent of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. On the flip side, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France along with several racers endorsed Trump at a presidential rally in Georgia.
For a political stance to go well, consumers told Sprout they find it more credible if the issue directly impacts your business's customers, employees or business operations. You also must know your audience.
Amid the current political climate, 78 percent of liberals, compared to 52 percent of conservatives, want brands to take a stand. Consequently, liberals are more likely to show brand loyalty and to make purchases from brands they agree with, while they're also more likely to boycott or publicly criticize a company they disagree with.
Overall, Sprout's data suggest "brands face more reward than risk" when taking a political stand. Consumers' most common emotional reactions, regardless of whether they agreed or disagreed were positive. Most often, the customers were intrigued, impressed and engaged.
Staying silent also has a cost. 65 percent of belief-driven buyers, which amounts to half of the consumers worldwide, will not buy a brand when it chooses to stay silent on an issue they feel it has an obligation to address, according to Edelman's Earned Brand Study.
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