It’s difficult to read the morning news while sipping your freshly brewed cup of coffee without hearing about one horror story after another. While this might be upsetting, a lovely and uplifting byproduct of all this criticism is that it inspires many to become activists.
People also want to see companies take a position and support something more significant than corporate profits as they get increasingly active in advocating for change. And they’re prepared to put their money where their mouth is. However, you must be very cautious while indulging in brand activism because if your message doesn’t align with their opinion, you will lose traction fast.
Before touching on the pros and cons, let’s go over precisely what brand activism is. Brand activism is the type of activism in which a business plays a leading role in the processes of sociopolitical conflict. It allows the customer to assess whether the moral foundations of your business align with their own. Companies may move forward with brand activism by making a public statement, campaigning, providing money to certain organizations, volunteering, or making a political statement through advertisements.
The potential benefits
According to a recent study, 91% of millennials and 85% of U.S. residents would switch brands to one associated with a cause they agreed with. Consumers are more devoted to businesses that go beyond simply offering a product or service and advocate for the same values and ideas they do.
Brands are getting increasingly vocal on topics in reaction to changing customer purchasing behavior. But taking a position exposes companies to potential public reaction, so firms must tread carefully.
Actively supporting a cause can help you generate long-term clients who share your beliefs. When individuals identify buying from a brand with supporting their principles, an emotional bond is formed, which builds loyalty to your brand.
Additionally, brand activism may provide you with a new branding opportunity to stand out to a particular audience, increase exposure on websites advocating for your activism, increase consumer loyalty that agrees with your company’s stance, and, of course, educating the public on essential issues and driving change.
According to Deloitte Insights, a brand’s purpose is everything. Purpose-driven businesses capture more market share and expand three times faster than the competition on average, all while attaining better customer satisfaction.
B the Change stated that “By choosing brands that align with their values, shoppers are voting with their wallets for the kinds of businesses they want in the world — and paving the way toward a more sustainable and just economy. We’re in an unfortunate time where Governments and Institutions provide less and less moral leadership, and we now expect to see it from the brands we buy.” If you can align strongly with your customer’s values, you can leverage that, and that will increase conversions and traffic from the case your business is making.
The potential drawbacks
However, while taking a firm stand on an issue, you must cater to your target audience’s opinions. Suppose you do not advocate for a view that the vast majority of your audience agrees with. In that case, there are various severe consequences, as multiple case studies have found, from the Association of Consumer Research and International Journal of Research and Marketing.
A study found that attitudes among customers who disagreed with a business’ activism significantly declined. Therefore, it is always important to consider the population that disagrees with your brand and if you are willing to lose them for a chance to gain a higher concentration of your target audience.
To add on, another study found a net negative effect of inauthentic advocacy, or “woke washing,” for the issue at hand. They found that by being inauthentic about the change, you will deceive customers with your statements, thus harming both the brand image, the possibility for social change, and customer engagement.
Historically, companies have been wary of making political remarks in any form for fear of angering their customers. Not every company needs to stand up for every cause, and many think that the negative publicity that comes with taking a contentious stance isn’t worth the loss in sales.
However, most business owners know that no brand can suit everyone. Your target consumers are often constrained by interest, wealth, and personal demographics, which means they prioritize some interests above others. And if you want to prioritize your target audience, increase profits from your target audience, and advocate for change, you should consider authentic brand activism for your company.