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Two-thirds of consumers say it’s important for brands to take a stand

How do you feel about the state of the world? Are their hot-button topics that you’re extremely passionate about? How do you feel about expressing those thoughts under your company’s banner on social media?

Scary thought, isn’t it? But a recent poll conducted by Sprout Social says that two-thirds of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues. Did you catch that big word in there: they didn’t just say it was okay if brands took a stand, they said it was important!

Still worried? Of course, you are. What if your customers don’t agree with the stance you take? Sprout Social says, there are more rewards than risks, but I’m not sure the numbers total up right. 44% of consumers said they’d buy more if they agree with a company’s agenda. But 53% said they’d purchase less if they don’t agree. 33% said they’d go as far as boycotting a brand.

And then there’s the issue of believability. Just because you say you’re in it for the greater good, doesn’t mean people will believe you and trust you. Publicly pushing an agenda that’s big in the news can come off as pandering. What’s worse? If consumers think you’re doing good with the right hand to cover up the bad you’re doing with the left, you’ll be much worse off.

The best way to avoid the appearance greed over good is to make sure your cause fits your brand. For example, if a diaper company is fighting for clean water and prenatal care in underprivileged countries, that’s a good match.  If a beer company starts providing free school lunches, that’s another story.

Consumers say brands are most credible when an issue directly impacts their customers (47%), employees (40%) and business operations (31%).

There are a few topics that consumers agree, have a more global reach such as human rights, labor laws, and gender equality. Consumers were almost evenly split on the topics of immigration and LGBTQ rights, with a near equal number of people saying companies should take a stand always, never, or only if it relates.

Ready to take a stand? Super. 58% of consumer surveyed said they’re fine with you making your point through social media. Just don’t expect to change their minds on important topics. 66% said posts from brands “rarely or never” influence their opinion on the issue.

Then what’s the point of sticking your neck out? People want to do business with human beings, not corporate entities. When your CEO hands out bottles of water to disaster victims, that’s human. When your restaurant gives free food to the local homeless shelter, that’s human.

The biggest reasons to take a public stand? Because when you don’t speak out people will assume you either don’t care or don’t agree. Either way, it’s a deep ding to your reputation.

If it’s important and you believe in it with all your heart. Take a stand.